Australian referee Matt Goddard’s pedantic behaviour in the Bulls’ 19-14 Super 14 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday has not only earned him a dubious ‘record’ for most cards in a Super Rugby game, but has incensed the New Zealanders.
Rugby 365 Goddard, who issued five yellow cards (actually six, as the sixth became a red), ensured that for more than 60 minutes of the game there was never a full quota of players on the field.
The Hurricanes played with 14 men for 29 minutes, the Bulls for 65 minutes.
The referee decided that he was going to clean up the game and stuck consistently to his principles, without really producing a game with space and players with confidence. His efforts at reformation did not work.
The recipients of the yellow cards were Pedrie Wannenburg (offside at a ruck, 19th minute), Ma’a Nonu (tackle offence, 28th), Deon Stegmann (tackle offence, 36th), Scott Waldrom (tackle offence, 42nd), Deon Stegmann (dangerous tackle of the spear variety, 49th) and Jason Eaton (stomping, 50th).
The second yellow card for Stegmann equalled a red, which is probably what his tackle on Conrad Smith deserved in any case.
The Bulls flank, Stegmann, will appear before a SANZAR judicial hearing in Wellington on Saturday and may well face a lengthy ban – as his actions not only injured Smith, but looked ugly.
Smith was taken to hospital for X-rays after the sickening hit.
The Hurricanes may well feel more aggrieved about the match official – labelled a “talkaholic ref” by Kiwi commentators – who issued 13 penalties against the home team and just three against the Bulls.
Both captains, Fourie du Preez for the Bulls and Rodney So’oialo for the Hurricanes, were reserved in their comments of the match official – obviously fearing some sanction should they criticize him – but they did speak of their frustrations with the many cards and penalties.
Du Preez praised his team for “showing great character” to hold on while being down a man for most of the match.
“Being a man down and defending a lot makes it a great win,” Du Preez said.
“It is a bit frustrating with the yellow cards, but it goes both ways.
“Every referee blows it differently and you just have to adapt to his game,” the Bulls captain added.
So’oialo spoke of his “disappointment” with the loss and the “frustration to have so many penalties.
He admitted to having had “a few exchanges” with the referee.
“I think the ref just has to go and look how he refereed the game,” the Hurricanes captain said.Tweet