The experts who are responsible for citing players for foul tactics in the Super 14 rugby competition may now find themselves on the carpet if they neglect their duties.
Jannie Lubbe, one of the Sanzar disciplinary commissioners in South Africa, says teams are not obliged to abide by decisions of citing officials who are, in their opinion, not doing their work.
Morris Gilbert writes in Beeld that teams are free to ask, within four hours after a match, the relevant official to cite players from the opposing team for foul play, Lubbe said on Tuesday.
If the request is not heeded, the teams are entitled to report the official to Sanzar.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské would have been, for example, within his rights to ask that Sitiveni Sivivatu of the Chiefs be cited for a spear tackle on JW Jonker last weekend.
“I don’t know whether Naka did, but I know JW could have been seriously injured,” said Lubbe, a Bloemfontein advocate.
The advantage of the new system is that the proverbial bad apples can soon be separated from the rest.
The performances of citing officials can be evaluated by an independent committee, as is the case with performances by referees and assistant referees.
Citing officials may have to explain why they failed to act after certain infringements or why they did not respond to a request to cite someone for foul play.
Less time to make a decision
When a player is cited, the official presumes that the infringement would probably have resulted in a red card.
“It is often said the referee or his assistants had shown the player, for the same offence, a yellow card. But they have much less time to make a decision,” Lubbe explained.
“The citing official has more time and is under less pressure. He can also study the offence from several angles before he decides whether it falls in the red-card category.
“In South Africa, we are fortunate to have a panel of citing officials (Andy Prior, Eddie Hendricks, Luvuyo Matsha and Corrie Strydom) who are doing a good job.
“The ideal is to be as consistent as possible. For that reason, we held an intensive workshop before the start of the Super 14.”
Lubbe says citing officials are the last line of defence against foul play.
The onus is, first of all, on players and their coaches to ensure the game is played within the laws. Match officials have a duty to act promptly to stop foul play.
The International Rugby Board’s regulations regarding punishment are very prescriptive, Lubbe said.
The disciplinary commissioner merely has to decide what the entry level of the relevant offence was and whether there were aggravating or mitigating circumstances before imposing the predetermined punishment.
“Sometimes aggravating circumstances can create an impression of discrepancies,” Lubbe said.
“It has been asked, for example, why (Bulls prop) Jaco Engels was suspended for three weeks for punching while another player was suspended for only a week for a similar offence.
“The answer is in Engels’s record, because he had also been found guilty of punching an opponent last season.”Tweet