Get fit, All Blacks tell rugby referees

2010-07-14 15:34

New Zealand has told international rugby referees to “get fitter”

in order to keep up with the pace of the modern game.

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith delivered the message today

ahead of the second Tri-Nations test against South Africa, saying referees

needed to be at peak fitness to meet the demands of test rugby.

Smith’s comments came after last week’s first test when 46-year-old

Irish referee Alan Lewis appeared to struggle to keep up with play as New

Zealand won 32-12.

Another Irishman, Alain Rolland, will control Saturday’s test at


Smith said the fitness requirement was greater as top teams kept

the ball in hand longer and kicked less, reducing stoppages.

“The ball in play is about 40 minutes in the test matches this year

because of the way we’re playing,” he said.

“If you talk to our tight forwards, they’ll talk about how the game

has changed, markedly, because of the amount of running they have to do.

Referees are going to need to make sure they’re up there, fitnesswise.”

Smith previously advocated the use of two referees in tests, while

All Blacks head coach Graham Henry called for referee substitutes.

“The game is going in the direction people want it to go,” Smith



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