Another South African referee has come in for public rebuke, following a Tri-Nations season of unrelenting controversy.
Rugby 365 reports that just a week after International Rugby Board referees boss Paddy O’Brien publicly castigated and axed Cobus Wessels from active on-field duty, his compatriot Jonathan Kaplan has come in for criticism for not taking strong enough action against the thuggish behaviour of All Black prop Tony Woodcock.
Kaplan, who penalised Woodcock for his blatantly illegal second-half charge into the back of a prone Wallaby, has been criticised for not issuing at least a yellow card for dangerous play – that after New Zealand won the tightly-contested Test 20-10.
His actions have astonished outspoken former World Cup-winning Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer, who also made no secret of the fact that he felt the All Blacks were still “cheating”.
In his column on his personal website, bobdwyerrugby.com, he suggested that Kaplan had clearly decided, before the game had begun, that he was not going to yellow card anyone.
Dwyer suggested that Kaplan thought there had been far too many cards in the tournament already and that – carding players – are for the ‘lesser referees’.
Dwyer said of Kaplan: “He thought: ‘I can control the game without any unnecessary reference to the laws’.
“How else can you explain no yellow card for Tony Woodcock’s ‘cheap shot’ and, for that matter, King Richie’s umpteenth ‘final warning’?”
Dwyer, who was very critical of the All Blacks after their 49-28 win in Melbourne and claimed they invented new ways of cheating each week, was unrelenting in his criticism of Kaplan.
“Under the laws of the game, I don’t think he had a choice,” Dwyer told the New Zealand Herald.
“It was foul play and therefore a compulsory yellow card. The Australian player [Saia Faingaa] was not in the ruck, he had his back to Woodcock.
“But Woodcock clobbered him and there were no arms used either to suggest a tackle. It was an illegal charge without arms.
“I don’t understand how some referees follow the law book but others don’t.”
The suggestion is that O’Brien could now find himself in a tight spot.
Kaplan is regarded as one of the top match officials and the IRB referees boss may be reluctant to rebuke him publicly.
However, after the manner in which he publicly castigated fellow South African, Cobus Wessels, for doing much less wrong in Melbourne, O’Brien might have painted himself into a corner.
O’Brien, commenting on Wessels missing a couple of clear incidents, said: “At the end of the day, there has to be some accountability.”
The Woodcock incident came at a crucial time, with the All Blacks ahead by only 17-10. Had they been forced to play with 14 men for 10 minutes after Woodcock’s 51st minute offence, the outcome could have been different.
Dwyer was not going to let the All Blacks get off lightly either.
In his column, on bobdwyerrugby.com, he said it was “more of the same”, in terms of law breaking, this time from the New Zealand scrum.
“In the first half, the New Zealand scrum was dominant, generally by way of an old-fashioned ‘boring in’ by the tighthead, Owen Franks, and some driving upwards by him in association with his hooker,” the former Wallaby coach said.
“The three officials had obviously forgotten about this ploy; it hasn’t been used for a while.
“I can’t believe that Stephen Moore would have succumbed so easily, and I was amazed that Faingaa was not substituted. Ben Franks did not seem to achieve the same result in the second half, but perhaps the Wallabies had addressed the problem at half-time.
“This was, unfortunately, about 40 minutes too late, as the damage had been done.
“Such is the problem from selecting inexperienced front row forwards.
“I was pleased, on the other hand, to see that Tony Woodcock was able, at last, to get his left hand off the ground. Maybe I’m being too kind and that this occurred only because this week’s scrum tactic was to attack from the tight-head side, not the usual ‘launch off the ground’ from Woodcock. They like to stay one step ahead of the ref, these Kiwis, and that’s obviously not too difficult!”Tweet