Canberra – A senior Australian Rugby Union official agreed on Monday with aspects of a written complaint about South African referee Willie Roos’s performance during the Brumbies’ loss to the Hurricanes on Friday night.
National referees manager for Australian rugby Peter Marshall said Roos’s decision to award 39 penalties and free kicks – effectively blowing his whistle once every two minutes – had an unwanted negative impact on the game, reports the Canberra Times.
His comments came in response to a letter Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher sent to him on the weekend, expressing frustration and disappointment at Roos’s performance.
Marshall indicated Roos, who has only been in charge of six Super 14 matches, should have yellow-carded players for repeated infringements if his penalty tally was so high.
“While free-kicks are generally tap-and-go, we don’t want so many stoppages, it’s not good for the game,” Marshall said.
“If there was a need for so many stoppages, maybe Willie could have looked at taking further action against players.
“You would think that with 39 cases, there should have been further action taken against players at some stage during the game.”
Roos’s constant whistle-blowing clearly frustrated both sides. Of the 39 stoppages 29 came at the ruck, two were for illegal tackles, four from scrums and four from other infringements.
A fired-up Fisher on Monday revealed he took his frustrations to the ARU in the hope of preventing a repeat performance when the Brumbies host the Cheetahs on Friday night.
Roos has not been appointed to a game this weekend, but that has nothing to do with last weekend’s performance.
Instead, Sanzar appointed referees for the first six rounds prior to the start of the season.
“I’ve sent an email through to seek clarification on whether they’re looking for any consistency or whether they’re happy for each referee to just interpret it in their own fashion,” an agitated Fisher said.
“Thirty nine free-kick penalties in a game of footy is not what anybody wants. I think better management and the re-introduction of a ruck to professional rugby would be good.”
Roos’s performance will be officially reviewed in a teleconference on Thursday.
Marshall welcomed Fisher’s feedback.
“Laurie has some gripes which is fine… most coaches after they lose have usually got gripes about the referee,” he said.
“Certainly there were some issues in the game and Laurie probably has some good points.
“We do encourage the referee and the coach to talk about any issue they may have, not so much to vent frustration but to talk things out, and I’ll be encouraging Willie and Laurie to have a chat.”
Statistics show the introduction of the ELVs has had minor influence on some aspects of the game but a major impact on others.
In the first four rounds of 2008, the ball has been in play an average of 34 minutes per match, only one minute more than the same period in 2007. The most telling stat is in the first four rounds, there has been an average of 16 free-kicks per game, up from two per game last season.