KSA Shark ©

The ref cost us the game

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news on 19 Jan 2009 at 03:00
Tagged with : , ,

When is it ever the referee’s fault that a team WON the game? It seems to always be his fault that a team LOSES. Never has a team said “Give the trophy to them, they were robbed”.

Rugby365’s Oracle, Paul Dobson, takes a look at the new pastime for players and coaches – blame the referee game.

It’s rugby’s version of boxing’s “We wuz robbed”, the cry Joe Jacobs made famous in 1932. Rugby has the referee cost us/lost us the game.

That suggests great power to a referee – the little man with the little whistle. It may even suggest that the little man with the little whistle is dishonest. He is probably the only man in rugby football regularly accused of dishonesty. “The ref’s a cheat.” or “We played against 16 men.”

There are lots of people involved in rugby – administrators, players, spectators and coaches. It is rare that one of those are accused of dishonesty. Oh, except selectors. They get accused of bias sometimes but more often they are labelled stupid. Players make mistakes, coaches are stupid and spectators are allowed to have their say however ill-informed but referees cheat.

That’s the perception.

Why on earth the referee should be less honest than the administrator, the player, the coach, the spectator, the poet or the priest is not immediately clear. It is unlikely that any young person takes up refereeing to cheat. Most of them start refereeing because they wanted to be involved in rugby. Perhaps they were not good enough as players; perhaps they had been injured; perhaps they had just stopped playing. But they all wanted to be involved, because the game is such a great game and because involvement is so enjoyable – for themselves and for those help to play – and enjoy – the game.

The higher they go in refereeing the more pressure there is on referees to do well and the more they are scrutinised in a game of much pressure, of many collisions, of high emotion. To still have the gall and time to cheat is unthinkable.

It is true that referees make mistakes. Perhaps is even true that they are affected by outside influences – like home ground, like a rude player.

Referees do make mistakes. That is inevitable in any game, let alone one as complicated as rugby football. Players make mistakes for the same reason – human fallibility. If humans had no frailties, sport would not be possible.

A referee does not have a greater dose of inherent frailty than the players on the field. He may not be able to run as fast or tackle as hard or sidestep as effectively but then he is not required to do those things. He is there to watch and react when things stop or need to be stopped.

But back to the accusation. Why a referee should be more inclined to cheat than a coach or a player or an administrator or a priest or a poet?

Why a referee should put his career in jeopardy is a silly thought.And, of course, the better referee does things better and makes fewer mistakes – as is true of the better player.

Let’s rather accept that a referee makes mistakes. Like players, he may even have a bad game. Like a player he may make a match-affecting error. There may even be a decision that is, in the context of the game, a massive call. Even if that massive error occurs near the end of the game, it will have been preceded by several player errors – even coaching errors.

There was the celebrated forward pass from Damien Traille to Frédéric Michalak which “cost” New Zealand the game and the World Cup and all sorts of things.

Forget how the scrum needed to be formed in France’s favour. After that Luke McAlister and Richie McCaw missed tackles. Then a host of New Zealanders converged on the outside, leaving Michalak with a simple inside pass for the try.

There was also in that match New Zealand’s deviation from their usual game-plan for a pick-‘n-drive game plan which the French could contain while great New Zealand wings were left in idleness.

Cardiff may have lost by a point in the last minute through a penalty. Forget the justification of the penalty but think how Leinster scored 18 points before the referee, apparently, scored three for them.

Losing is not pleasant and it may be convenient to concentrate on the referee’s mistakes or allege mistakes or perceived bias or whatever.

It may just be better in all ways and more mature to keep counsel till emotions have faded. Players are expected to behave and perform well under pressure and even provocation. Perhaps others should do so as well.


  • Referees are human …but I guess some humans are less human than others… 😈

    I’m not one to make a big deal over small mistakes, some of them that take 10 replays to spot, but I just hate it when refs miss an obvious infringement or foul…IT’S YOUR JOB loser- keep the eyes open!!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 19.01.09 08:16:42 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I have read this piece a few times now. 😎 😎 😎

  • Comment 2, posted at 19.01.09 08:39:21 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • i don’t say all refs are cheats. i say refs aren’t capable to referee the ridiculous number of laws rugby has. and as long as these laws aren’t simplified they will continue to battle. referees do however have the opportunity to blow for a particular team as the laws allows this with a number of infringements to choose within a minute at breakdowns. a typical area i like challenging kaplan on is his handling of breakdowns. kaplan is a great ref but he has a blind eye at times. two areas he doesn’t patrol well are players coming in from the side and the tackled player holding onto the ball. he is quick to blow the defending team for sealing off the ball, but many times the first offence is the tackled player holding onto the ball. the defenders come in to get the ball and in the seconds they battle to release the ball from the player the player’s team mates arrive on the scene and drag the player off his feet into a sealing position. kaplan and many refs get this wrong. the law should be if you are on your feet and you are challenging for the ball before the ruck is formed, no-one may take you out. to me it is foul play to clear out players that are legitimately contending for the ball. as for coming in from the side, well this rule is being ignored by the nh refs. they have been shocking policing this and has really ruined the guinness and heineken cup as spectacles.

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.01.09 10:54:11 by try time Reply
  • They could end the debate by releasing the ref’s ratings….simple.

    They the most protected people on the planet – why?

  • Comment 4, posted at 19.01.09 11:38:55 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.