I know what most people, especially those north of the Jukskei, will say when I again bring up the standard of top-level refereeing currently in world rugby.Most would call it sour grapes as a refereeing error cost the Stormers their opening game in this year’s Super14.
Some of our friends in the antipodes would probably call me a hypocrite as it was poor refereeing that effectively gifted us a world cup title without having to face the arch-nemesis, the New Zealand All Blacks, in last years World Cup.
However, I feel it is something that needs to be highlighted.
So the likes of Andre Watson, as manager of SA Referees, Steve Meintjies, as chairman of SA Referees and Paddy o’Brien, as referee manager for the IRB would do well to continue reading.
You lot like to comment that everybody makes mistakes etc etc etc. And while true its still costing teams valuable results and, with rugby being a professional sport, is costing teams and unions money.
It seems to me that while the game has gone more professional referees have been left behind. The old calls of accountability have again surfaced and maybe its time to introduce another official onto the field or simply retrain referees to spot modern-day mistakes.
Fact is that more close games than ever before are being decided by referees.
In the last 12 months alone, off the top of my head, both the Super14 final and the World Cup were significantly influenced by the quality of the refereeing.
NZ was dumped out of the World Cup and lost by only two points despite France scoring from an obvious forward pass and referee Wayne Barnes awarding France nine penalties to New Zealand’s two, with none going the way of New Zealand in the entire second half.
The yellow carding of Luke McAlister was also dubious and France scored 17 points when he was in the sin bin.
He had been warned but upon reviewing the footage it would appear as if the French player ran into him and then claimed the obstruction, something they might have learned from their football compatriots.
But obstruction aside, the penalty count tells its own story as does the forward pass that broke the New Zealanders.
All, in all, a shocking display which had a material effect on the eventual results.
O’Brien can call it what he likes but the fact that Barnes was appointed to such a big game after having only blown his first professional game 8 months earlier is also not lost as well as the fact that he bottled it. Badly.
Then rewind to a few short months earlier and you’ll see the Bulls win the Super14 trophy in the dying minutes to what can only be described as an unlucky Sharks team.
Deep into injury-time a knock-on by Derick Hougaard gifted Habana a try that sealed the deal for the Bulls who walked away champions, having won the game by one point.
In both the above examples not only the referee but also the touch judges missed these rather obvious errors.
What I cant understand is what they were doing at that point? Surely in the final minutes of the final of the Super14 you’d think they would have eagle eyes and be paying a bit more attention. Sadly not.
And in conclusion I have the third example of the last twelve months. By no means least and by no means have there been only these three shocking refereeing performances, but due to time constraints, sore fingers and poor memory this will be the last example posted today.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you Willie Roos who seems stuck in a time warp and unable to distinguish between the old laws as we know it and the new ELVs being trialled. So what was produced was a sort of quasi mix of the two with nobody really knowing what they could or could not do thanks to virtually no policing by our esteemed referee and more bark than bite on the field.
Now I wasn’t able to watch the game live but, thanks to a friendly soul and a super-fast broadband connection, was able to watch it 100% sober, albeit delayed.
I was amazed. I felt Willie didn’t really know what he was doing and failed to lay down the law.
A normally pedantic referee known for blowing a game to pieces, he seemed shocked and out-of-sorts, again having a large influence on the game.
Warning the Bulls, he failed to follow through, allowing the ball to be slowed to such a degree that it was taking ages to emerge from rucks, totally undoing the purpose of the ELVs.
What was a relatively free-flowing game in the first half became staid and tight as the Bulls slowed down the ball with ref Willie unwilling to address the issue.
Dubious refereeing also resulted in the only try of the game, although in my opinion and that of Tappa Henning, it should never have been given.
While the Bulls nevertheless deserved the win it may have been an entirely different kettle of fish had the Stormers gone into the half-time break 9-0 up instead of 9-7 up.
Now every player I’ve ever played with will test a referee just to see what they could get away with. If the ref doesn’t blow then you push it a little further the next time.
And I fear this is exactly what happened over the weekend. When the Bulls saw Willie not blowing they pushed and pushed and pushed. And he did nothing. To the detriment of the game and totalling negating the point of the new laws.
All in all, Willie Roos, hang your head in shame. Its not the first time you’ve been on the end of criticism and I fear it will not be the last time. If you were a player you’d be warming the bench by now or looking for a new province. As it is we have to put up with your erratic refereeing game after game after game as you are seemingly untouchable.
My biggest bugbear at the moment is that the ELVs were introduced into the Super14 and the referee, in this case Willie Roos, seemed to have no clue as to how to police them.
In my humble opinion the only thing that was wrong with the game in the first place was that referees weren’t blowing to the rules. They allowed things to sneak into the game that shouldn’t be allowed.
The best example of this is the referees continually having to shout hands-out (before ELVs) in the ruck situation. In my opinion there are 30 professional players on the field who play rugby all day long – they should damned well know when they can use their hands and when not without being told!
If that had been sorted out instead of the introduction, and hasty trialling, of these new laws we’d have no problems and these new laws wouldn’t be necessary. Some fo the most entertaining rugby over the weekend was in the Guiness Premiwership where there are no new laws being trialled. Reference Saracens v Newcastle and Bath v Wasps, both cracking games.
As it stand the laws are doomed from the offset if the referees don’t lift their game considerably and start blowing per the laws as laid down.
If any need a copy they should please contact me and I’ll gladly send over a free photocopy.
As for Willie Roos, eish boetie.Tweet