Look within before complaining, Watson tells coaches

2013-05-05 14:00

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SA Rugby Union (Saru) head of referees André Watson has advised coaches to concentrate on their teams instead of criticising match officials.

Watson says coaches who criticise referees should look at themselves before censuring the decisions officials make during matches.

This comes in the face of criticism from coaches who have claimed to be on the wrong side of key decisions in recent Super Rugby matches.

“You should ask them yourself. We have all played the sport and we adhere to a code of conduct that is universal,” said Watson.

“Our door is open for a forum where coaches can actually speak to referees after the game. We used to have a format, in the form of a press conference, where we would have the coaches and the referee, where issues relating to the game would be discussed. I think we need to go back to that.”

All coaches from across the South African and Australasian spectrum have had a go at referees.

Whenever the Sharks lost, John Plumtree somehow found reason to give the match official stick instead of focusing on his team’s faults.

He reserved the most criticism for New Zealander Jonathon White, who officiated the Sharks vs Cheetahs game, which the Sharks lost 12-6. Plumtree accused White of underplaying the Sharks’ advantage at a knock-on and also for giving the Cheetahs a free pass at the breakdown.

While it has been the losing teams who have done all the carping, referees have indeed not covered themselves in glory, with several dubious calls at crucial times.

The greyest area has been the interpretation of the breakdown and the rolling maul, a potent South African try-scoring weapon.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika pulled no punches in his criticism of Argentinian official Francisco Pastrana, whom he blamed for the Sydney side’s breakdown woes in last week’s game against the Bulls.

“I was disappointed at how one of our players was penalised for being offside at the ruck. Akona Ndungane tackled as he laid the ball back and there was no one touching him. The ball spun back and hit the player inadvertently and we were penalised,” complained Cheika.

“We take the time to work out a play to counteract their kickoff and, when we sent a man to contest, he penalises us. There is no point in being intelligent and trying to coach rugby. At the start, we were heavily penalised and the same at the end of the game. In the middle, we weren’t and we played well.”

The Bulls were dominant in the game and Watson did concede that teams who attack more will curry more favour with referee.

“Not at any stage should referees be favouring any team, but when one side is doing all the attacking, it tends to happen that way,” said Watson.

“Teams who attack often go hard at defensive lines and the defending team will be hard-pressed to keep them at bay. That is where transgressions, like killing the ball and the tackler not rolling away, often come in, but they will try, by all means, to slow the ball down.”

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