Tuesday, 18 November 2014 00:00
The referees for last week’s key games were expatriates reinforcing the view that the local referees are unable to step up to the challenge. Whilst it is a sad admission, it must be lauded in that we now have the best to officiate at these games and the time must be taken to learn from them.
Whilst swimming cannot be learnt via a correspondence course, in rugby too practice is the key. Talking to knowledgeable sources in the field of refereeing, it is common belief that a majority of the referees have no desire to excel and look upon the job at hand as yet another chore.
They have effectively cut out their ability be receptive to feedback and constructive criticism. Keeping abreast with the laws of the game is one aspect, whilst the correct and consistent interpretation of the rules is another.
The Navy/CR game and the Kandy/Havies game were two games that everybody would have wanted to witness, and unless you had the ability to be omnipresent, you had to settle for one game. Navy at the outset looked as if they would stamp their authority and run away with the game. They played with a lot of freedom and CR was found wanting on most occasions. In the first half CR was unwilling to commit numbers to the breakdown point thereby providing Navy with clean and quick ball. The score that Navy rattled up in the first 60 minutes of the game with a three score margin, made them relax to a certain extent.
As evidenced in the Havies game, CR saved their best rugby for the last quarter and the feeling was that they had left it too late to make a comeback. One of the important facets of the game is the ability for key players to make correct decisions in real time. On a number of occasions when there was three points on offer, CR opted to kick for touch. They fluffed the resultant line out and the rest is history. Analysis of the game will prove this and the think tank will be looking at what might have been.
At the time of a kick-off, every effort must be made to regain possession. Thus the kick must be weighted so that it provides the forwards every reasonable opportunity to compete. CR did not think so and the kicks were too deep and those chasing to regain the ball were small in number and lacklustre in approach.
Navy still remains unbeaten but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels as the competition this year is quite fierce. The top five teams are capable of beating the team ahead of them in the points table.
The previous day’s deluge had left its indelible mark on the surface as it was soft and greasy underfoot, resulting in the scrums being a bit of a lottery. The referee controlled the game well and there was a lesson to be learnt on what constitutes an advantage and the length that it could be played. If one was to be critical, the referee could have been a bit more severe on players standing still with their arms in the air and not making a conscious effort to retreat.
Kandy had a scare till the last moment of the game and must be offering flowers at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic for the Havies Player who decided to take a short tap, when awarded a penalty with less than a minute to go. As said before, the need to make quality decisions in real time is one aspect that the game teaches us. Sadly Havies once again failed in this aspect.
The Wallabies learnt this lesson the hard way in their third Bledisloe cup encounter. Possibly the Havies have not watched that game, and have not had that lesson taught to them by the coaching staff. Some players, as in the corporate world, fail to learn from the mistakes of others, but insist on making the mistake themselves before the lesson sinks in. There is no known antidote for such stupidity, other than being relegated to the bench.
(The writer can be reached via email@example.com.)