Referee errors steal the limelight

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

French referee Romain Poite was the subject of widespread criticism for his decision to yellow card South Africa’s Bismarck du Plessis in the first half of their clash with the All Blacks. Unlike in local rugby circles the referee was man enough to admit that he made an error in the issuance of a yellow card for the du Plessis tackle on Dan Carter. Those who witnessed the game will agree that it was a cracker tackle and Carter did not see it coming as he had his eyes on the ball.  Interestingly Carter himself had no complaints despite suffering a shoulder injury. What was intriguing was the role of the TMO, George Ayoub, to whom the incident was referred to. However he failed to provide the on-field referee with sufficient evidence to enable him to take an informed decision, as it was not a dangerous tackle. Whilst the yellow card itself, could be condoned as a genuine referee error, the value add of the TMO was zero and thus the very purpose of referring it to the TMO was lost. However there was a further twist to the tale as the same player was penalised for an elbow to the throat of a NZ player. Even in this instance, it was more of reflex action in terms of protecting the ball as opposed to an intention to harm the oncoming tackler. Thus the yellow card in this instance could be justified. As the same player had been yellow carded previously, he was red carded and took no further part in the game. The first yellow card was now in sharp focus as the first error by the referee could not be corrected. Thus for the major part of the game, the Boks played with 14 men. Against any other team there could a slight chance that you can defend with a man down but not against a classy NZ outfit that raised their game when needed. Despite the referee goof up, there was bruising hard rugby on display, with plenty of blood and replacements to bear testimony to the intensity of the game. Stand in skipper Read’s first try was a great team move with a dummy lifter in the lineout which bamboozled the Boks and allowing Read to score. Patrick Lambie’s try late in the second half was also worth watching. Zane Kirchner collected a cross-kick and passed it back with Lambie picking up the ball and scoring. The Boks are a quality outfit, and despite the result they will still rightly believe that they possess the necessary skill to beat the All Blacks in the return encounter. In the second game, Michael Hooper once again was outstanding in dominating the breakdown and the loose and pilfering ball for the Wallabies. The Wallabies looked like scoring only when Israel Folau had the ball in hand and that’s exactly what they did. New skipper Ben Mowen deserves credit for their first win and Horwill has been told that when he returns he may not be the automatic choice for the Captaincy role. Many pundits have applauded the decision-making of Mowen as he did not ignore penalty goals and hence the important three points and keeping the scoreboard ticking. My view is that he is here to stay although not in the No. 8 slot. Nick White gave a good account of himself with some deft kicking which always had the Wallaby forwards on the front foot. The fact that Genia was not given any game time must surely hurt and as and when he returns to the fray his impact is bound to be felt. The Pumas are a tough side and as the score line indicates they were no pushovers. Had some of the passes gone to hand they would have in all probability notched up their first win. As one watches them over and over they remind you of the French side, full of character, individual brilliance, never say die attitude, unpredictable and a great love for the game. Unfortunately, they have not been able to convert these attributes into points when it matters the most. Having talent is one thing, putting it to use is another. (The writer can be reached via scrumaf@gmail.com)

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