The Springbok rugby team’s unhappy marriage with the International Rugby Board took another intriguing turn on Monday, with the revelation that the South Africans have asked for an “explanation” from the IRB about a string of puzzling rulings by New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence in South Africa’s 32-25 Tri-Nations win over Australia.
Neville Heilbron, the South African Rugby Union’s refereeing advisor with the Bok squad, confirmed to Rugby365 that they have been in touch with IRB referees boss Paddy O’Brien and are awaiting his response.
Bok coach Peter de Villiers also told a media gathering in Brisbane, ahead of Saturday’s showdown with the Wallabies, that they have sought clarity on a number of rulings – after being heavily punished by Lawrence in Perth at the weekend.
The Boks, who penalised a total of just 16 times in their three pervious Tests in this year’s Tri-Nations, conceded 15 penalties in one match under the Kiwi ref.
Their three previous Tests were all handled by Northern Hemisphere officials – Alain Roland (Ireland – in Bloemfontein and Cape Town) and Nigel Owens (Wales – in Durban).
The Boks, in beating the All Blacks 28-19 in Bloem, were penalised just four times by Roland. Owens awarded seven penalties against the Boks in their 31-19 win over the Kiwis in Durban a week later and Roland saw just five transgressions by the Boks in their 29-17 win over the Aussies in Cape Town.
Yet Lawrence penalised the Boks 15 times, five of those penalties coming at scrum time, in Perth.
“I can’t understand the penalties and where they came from,” De Villiers told a media gathering in Brisbane.
“We honestly don’t know what many of them were for, particularly the ones against us for scrum infringements.
“We want clarification from Paddy [O'Brien] before our scrumming session tomorrow [Tuesday], because we can’t understand it.
“We want to know what is going on before Saturday’s return Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane.”
The Boks, who were leading 15-0 at the end of the first quarter, were heavily penalised in a 20-minute period – in the latter stages of the first half and the early parts of the second half.
The Boks still managed to build up a 22-6 half-time lead and held a 32-13 advantage going into the final 10 minutes.
Even though the Springboks were able to overcome perceived refereeing inconsistencies, the Bok coach felt that the matter needed to be addressed.
“We can’t play the game like that,” De Villiers said. “With all that free possession gifted to them they gained confidence and we had to defend really well to keep them out.”
The Boks will be happy to learn that this week they are back in Northern Hemisphere hands, with England referee Wayne Barnes in charge of the match.
The Boks’ “query” over Lawrence’s handling of the Perth match comes amidst the backdrop of the fall-out over the South Africans’ armband protests during the third Test against the British and Irish Lions – over what they felt were inconsistencies in the citing and judicial systems.
The Boks have made it clear that they have long held the suspicion that they may be the target of over-officious members of the Australasian fraternity and it would not have been lost on the Bok management that the latest furore has once again been sparked by a New Zealand official’s handling of their match.
Article Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet