The British and Irish Lions' series against South Africa has been dubbed "ugly, deflating and embarrassing" while All Blacks coach Ian Foster even joked the second Test sent him to sleep.

The series' entertainment value, or lack of it, particularly in the second Test, has been a clear takeaway among rugby fans tuning in to the Tests so far, which have seen the hosts and tourists claim one win each to take it to a series decider this Saturday.

Rather than being high-tempo, fast-paced, attack-focused rugby, fans have been left to soak up low-risk, stop-start play with plenty of kicking and aerial battles - and it's not gone unnoticed around the world.

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster dubbed this series a "slugfest" with both teams "almost afraid to play".

Speaking to RugbyPass, he joked of the second Test: "I watched it between 10pm and 1am last night, it put me to sleep.

"It's become very tight, almost risk-free type of series, aren’t they? Teams are almost afraid to play, they are just relying on a low-risk strategy.

"So we are seeing two teams who desperately want to win a big series playing low-risk, highly-effective rugby.

"Both of them are good at the close contact stuff, the close quarter fighting, the kick and chase, and the pressure game. Two teams playing a similar style, it’s a bit of a slugfest."

He claimed the Lions and Springboks don't like playing against line speed, with the obvious answer to then kick repeatedly.

"We’ve been criticised in the past for not being able to play around and through line speed, but what you are seeing is two teams that don’t like playing against line speed either.

"So what do they do? They kick. That’s the answer if you are not willing to play a slightly more risky game. Everyone will choose a different way."

In Australian quarters, the Lions series has been recognised as an intense affair but ultimately has been dubbed "ugly and deflating".

Sydney Morning Herald rugby columnist Paul Cully claimed the first two Tests have been "eyesores, bad-tempered and sadly lacking in inspiration".

Highlighting that Warren Gatland's men managed a "meagre" 105 running metres against the Springboks, he wrote : "The No.9-No.10 combination of Conor Murray-Dan Biggar appeared to be reading from a narrow, conservative script that relied heavily on contestable kicks.

"Genuinely gifted backs such as Anthony Watson and Liam Williams have barely been seen with ball in hand in the series (or even seen), while wings Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit have strangely been overlooked for the burly but limited Duhan van der Merwe.

"Gatland has a brilliant record for the Lions - and he may well turn it around next week - but there have been times during the past three tours when it felt like the tactical handbrake has been applied too tightly."

As for players actions towards officials, he added: "The amount of yelling, from both sides, at referee Ben O’Keeffe during the second Test was embarrassing, and will undoubtedly filter down to the amateur level, where there is already pressure on referee numbers."

Pressure on officials' shoulders has been a major talking point of the Lions tour so far, with Gatland first highlighting a lack of Plan B from World Rugby when South African referee Marius Jonker had to step in as series TMO, before Rassie Erasmus' extraordinary hour-long monologue taking aim at decisions made by Nic Berry in the first Test.

Speaking ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia on Saturday, August 7, All Blacks boss Foster threw his support behind referees and said coaches must do the right thing in that regard.

In what could be viewed as a thinly-veiled swipe at Springbok director of rugby Erasmus, he said: "We’ve got to support the referees, there’s no doubt about it. We can have our gripes behind the scenes and that’s alright, we’ve felt like that at times, we felt a bit like that last year, but we know the guys out in the middle are trying to do the best they can and it’s a tough job.

"We have just got to make sure that we support the game and do the right thing.

"The media and people want us to express views, so it’s getting that balance between how much do you say and what you’re really thinking versus how much do we make sure we are not making it an impossible game to referee."

As for Erasmus' water carrier activities, Foster added: "Well I think I might run water on Saturday. Looks like quite an effective strategy.

"Look, he is who he is, they’ve got their strategies about how they go about things, it’s certainly not ours."