South African coach caught pulling same trick that left Warren Gatland furious in Champions Cup final

-Credit: (Image: TNT Sports)
-Credit: (Image: TNT Sports)


Leinster coach Jacques Nienaber exploited a loophole in the rules during Saturday's Champions Cup defeat by Toulouse – and it will be a familiar sight to those who remember the last Lions tour.

Nienaber is best known for his stellar work as head coach of South Africa, winning two World Cups with the Springboks, as well as defeating Warren Gatland's Lions in 2021.

The 51-year-old left the South Africa setup after winning the World Cup last year and has joined the Irish province under Leo Cullen as a senior coach.

And on Saturday, Nienaber was shown pulling the same trick that Rassie Erasmus pulled during the Lions tour three years ago, a ploy which angered Gatland at the time.

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During that tour, The Lions believed that Erasmus, the Springboks' director of rugby, took up a role as a water boy to intimidate referees. After the Lions had beaten South Africa 'A', a game in which Erasmus had also been the water boy, Gatland had some pretty pointed words to say.

“Last night he is a water boy and running on the pitch," Gatland said of Erasmus. "I think if you are the water boy carrier running onto the pitch you have got to make sure you are carrying water.

“I didn’t understand what his role was. You don’t run onto the pitch giving messages and stuff if you are the water boy without carrying the water. My advice is to make sure he is carrying water the next time he does that.”

Warren Gatland and Rassie Erasmus during the 2021 Lions tour -Credit:Getty Images
Warren Gatland and Rassie Erasmus during the 2021 Lions tour -Credit:Getty Images

After that incident, which sparked controversy and even had refereeing chiefs questioning whether it should be allowed, World Rugby issued a new law which stated that “water carriers cannot be a director of rugby or head coach”.

Clearly, Nienaber knows the ins and outs of said law, because his title of "senior coach" is not covered by the above and therefore he is allowed to carry the drinks.

The South African came on to the pitch and held a lengthy discussion with officials, who appeared to take umbrage with him kneeling on the touchline. However, it was decided that he was allowed to stay. In the second half, Nienaber appeared to gather the Leinster players in for a huddle and a team talk.

Despite Nienaber's best efforts, though, Leinster were pipped after extra time, with Toulouse running out 31-22 winners.