Rugby union fixture All Blacks versus Springboks – ruined by bad refereeing

Bad rugby referees

As a mere female, I’m not sure I’m really qualified to comment on the subject of rugby (union) referees.  Although, I think females are less inclined to ‘laugh off’ the appalling decisions rugby refs sometimes make and also to understand the male psyche of thinking that to complain about them is unsportsmanlike and unmanly.

For heaven’s sake, these sportsmen, especially rugby players, train hard, their coaches work hard, their unions pay out huge amounts of money, not to mention the fans who lay their hearts and money out there.  Then along comes some fellow who can change the whole outcome of a match with what appears to be very little repercussion for him.

Take the recent much publicised rugby match between the number 1 and 2 ranked teams in the world – New Zealand and South Africa.  The whole event was ruined – even though the New Zealanders will not admit it – by the French referee who made some really bad decisions and South Africa ended up playing with only 14 players for most of the game when one of their best players was red carded.   It’s disappointing when warranted send offs occur but in this case it was just a farce.

Of course no South African rugby player or coach is allowed to complain during press interviews and the official statement is “oh well, I guess it was our fault”.  The New Zealand press think their players played brilliantly and totally outplayed South Africa – ‘Pu-leez’, are you dumb or what?  Not to mention after the world cup in France when they perceived the ref made a blunder, which knocked them out of the tournament – they’re still going on about it.

I’m a Natal Sharks supporter and believe you me we’ve had numerous bad decisions to deal with, one of which literally cost us the Super 14 rugby final in 2007.

Why are refs not more accountable and transparent?  There is supposedly some sort of referee’s committee/organisation that rates them but the public are never made aware of the issues and outcomes.  I have a suggestion, which probably has all sorts of negatives in the eyes of the officials.  I think that after each match the captain and coach from each rugby side should sit down with the refs from the game and go through the video.  They should be allowed to ask the ref to explain why he blew up this infringement but not that identical one.  Why was that lineout throw in crooked but not this one, etc. (Another female thing – I know a straight line when I see it – these guys are confused even when the throw-ins are right in front of them).

Everyone understands that referees cannot see everything and some decisions can be difficult to make but I’m sure if they had to explain their decisions openly, they may just be a bit more careful and fair.  The results of these meetings should be made available to the public in order for them to perhaps understand a little better what is actually going on.  There’s too much “insider club” stuff regarding referees.  When players make mistakes and do not play well it is openly discussed and they can be dropped from the team.  If a referee is constantly not up to scratch he should be dropped from the top level and go back to club/provincial refereeing to improve his game.

What are your thoughts?



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