Saturday, 4 January 2014 00:00
The local rugby season is set to commence after the seasonal break. A look at the last few weeks of rugby, indicates that we did not have much of quality on the field of play, with many dropped passes, a lack of imagination in the field of play, poor choices and an over reliance on the expatriate player to get past the gain line. Whilst a lot of cash has been spent on the inclusion of foreign players, as to whether we are reaping the full benefits of them rubbing shoulders with our local players is difficult to gauge.
The quality of the officials must improve in leaps and bounds if we are to witness the true potential of the teams. I have said this often that the quality of our referees is simply not adequate. The fact that the 2013 Bradby shield game, which is a school game had to undertaken by an expatriate set the tone for the quality of referring.
The last high profile game between Navy and CR was comedy of errors by the referee. At times I felt that I was watching a different match to what the referee was officiating. I am not sure whether it was a case of incompetence or deliberate attempt to overlook glaring mistakes.
A good referee will keep in his vision the movement of the ball and any off the ball misdemeanours must be picked up by the Assistant referee, unless the same is plain sight. Thus when a referee consistently misses a forward pass, a knock on, it could mean that the referee is out of position and has actually lost the plot. It is even worse when a crooked feed to scrum is missed as well as a crooked throw into the line out.
If we are to move the game forward, we must educate and train our referees further. With it also comes the responsibility of ensuring fair play and executing an unbiased view and consistency in the decision making process. Alas all of this was lacking in the CR/Navy game.
With the margin of victory being just four points it could have been anybody’s game that evening. A number of genuine rugby fans left the grounds that day with a sense of despair and if such blatant violations continue, we will have club games played with empty stands.
Another feature that stood out at the CR/Navy game was the decision making by the CR team. With CR leading 17/12 they were awarded a penalty which was definitely within kicking range. For some strange reason, they chose to kick to the corner with the hope of winning the lineout and maybe then attempt for a pushover try.
If it had come off, it would have looked terrific, but it did not and with the resultant turnover, Navy scored and the scoreboard read 17 all as opposed to a possible 20/12 and with a margin of two scores. I thought that it was a defining moment and thereafter CR was always on the back foot.
Five games are scheduled to be worked off this weekend and the Havies/UCL tussle should draw crowds as would the Sharks/CR and the Navy/Army game. Navy continue to lead the table followed by Kandy and Havies. Only the Havies and Navy are unbeaten to date and that meeting is bound to be a cracker.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)