The anecdote may be apocryphal but it gives every appearance of being true.
Wynne Gray writes in the NZ Herald that when Sanzar invited officials to a conference about the Super 14′s new rules, the South African representatives lost their notes. That indifference was reversed, eventually, although the performance of Jerome Fortuin in the Highlanders-Waratahs game made you wonder if he had received the ELV list at all.
It may not have mattered. Fortuin has delivered patchy performances throughout his Super 14 career and he continued to look flustered and confused on a wretched night at Carisbrook.
The Highlanders were stitched up by poor decisions in their opening two defeats and then had Fortuin’s confusion on Saturday.
While the Blues, Crusaders and Sharks continued to hold centre stage, the refereeing also surged into the spotlight in the latest round.
Firstly, Bryce Lawrence mocked suggestions that officials would be seen but not heard this season when he doled out advice in large lumps to the Hurricanes and Chiefs.
Next up Kelvin Deaker got it in the ear from Lions coach Eugene Eloff who blamed him for missing a forward pass in the Force’s winning try.
“I’ve also had a chat to Andre Watson [South Africa manager of referees] and he agrees that our disallowed try was a legal score. It is very disappointing,” Eloff said.
He accused Deaker of being very inconsistent his breakdown rulings.
South African Mark Lawrence binned three players in a torrid rerun of last year’s Bulls v Sharks final.
The Stormers complained about Wille Roos’ work as a referee then as a touch judge when he had flanker Schalk Burger sent to the bin. Burger’s vocal objection to that decision cost him a two-week suspension. Roos was on hand to help Lawrence with yellow cards at Pretoria yesterday and this weekend runs the Crusaders match against the Force.
After a six-year gap, the Crusaders completed an unbeaten run in Africa with a defensive shut out against the Stormers. That sent a strong message to the Blues, who zoomed to the top of the competition with a maximum-points win against the Cheetahs.
“It was a big motivation for us to get two wins in South Africa,” Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw said.
“It would have been a long flight back home if we had lost. We know defence comes down to pride, and when the Stormers decided to go for the try our guys were queuing up and egging each other on, you could hear them calling it out.” The Blues once again showed their attacking menace, which has produced 18 tries in three matches.
Whether that translates into a series decider against the Crusaders in late-May is unclear but those teams are playing a different quality of rugby to their rivals. The Sharks are also unbeaten after three rounds but they struggled in their 29-15 away victory against last year’s champion Bulls.
It sets up a clash between the Blues and Sharks, a game which will be refereed by Australian Brett Bowden whose style will be familiar to the Blues after he controlled their game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.Tweet