Chris Moerdyk

No, Jake! Refs deserve to be bashed.

2013-09-23 08:52

Chris Moerdyk

Not only is Jake White one of the best rugby coaches in the known universe but he is also incredibly canny when it comes to working behind the scenes to give his teams the maximum amount of psychological advantage.

A couple of days ago he was quoted on News24, expressing "concern with the amount of pressure referees are under and the torrent of abuse they receive for bad decisions".

This followed the wave of criticism directed at France's Romain Poite after his incorrect decision to award Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis his first yellow card during the Boks' clash against the All Blacks in Auckland earlier this month, including a Facebook petition calling for the referee's axing which has garnered a massive number of "likes".

This, in my opinion, is vintage Jake White and clearly aimed at ingratiating himself as a teacher's pet among world rugby referees.

Learning from the master

You might also have noticed that after that Auckland debacle neither the South African coach nor the captain said a word about the refereeing. I reckon they're learning from Jake White, the master - don't piss off the refs because next time your petulance and barbed remarks will be stuck firmly in the back of even the most non-partisan ref's mind and almost without him knowing it, you will get the wrong end of the stick.

So, when coaches, captains and rugby administrators say that we should stop criticising refs, don’t listen because it's now up to the fans to take up the responsibility of keeping those guys on the straight and narrow.

In my opinion, it was not enough that both Sanzar and the International Rugby Board admitted that Poite had made a mistake and it was also not enough that the red card was expunged from Du Plessis' record.

I reckon that when such monumental mistakes completely change the balance of a game then it's no good just saying sorry.

South African rugby fans had to put up with the disappointment of watching half a rugby, match with one side having only 14 men.

With the rugby administrators having all agreed after the game was over that the red card was unjustified, then at least a draw should have been declared.

Surely that's logical. The All Blacks were awarded a win as a result of a monumental blunder.

The trouble is that major sport is all about money and unfortunately controversy often becomes a money-spinner.

Nothing like revenge

The return match between the All Blacks and the Boks at Ellis Park is now guaranteed a sell-out and TV audiences will undoubtedly be bigger than ever before.

There is nothing quite like revenge to fuel interest.

There is a line, however, at which sensation and interest caused by injustice will be crossed to the point where fans start to lose interest.

This is starting to happen with limited over cricket as a result of perceptions of increased match fixing. Many cricketing purists I know are simply losing interest. Among them some high profile former national players.

The people who run the rugby industry are playing a tricky game by putting money first and spectator loyalty a long way down their list of priorities.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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