Rainbow Cup

Bulls coach Jake White voices concerns over 'frustrating' captain's call

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Jake White during the Currie Cup final between Bulls and Sharks.
Jake White during the Currie Cup final between Bulls and Sharks.
(Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Bulls coach Jake White has voiced his concerns over the captain's call rule that has been a talking point in the ongoing Rainbow Cup.

White's charges beat the Stormers 20-16 at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night to make it two wins from two in the competition so far.

Under a new set of laws approved by World Rugby that are being trialed in the competition, captains have one review each where they can ask a referee to look at either a try scoring incident or potential foul play. 

If the challenge is successful, then the side will keep their one challenge for the game. If it is unsuccessful, the captain will not be allowed to challenge again until the final five minutes of the match. 

The new ruling is being enforced, ultimately, in an effort to eradicate dangerous play from the game. 

While the initiative has been applauded by many, it has also come in for criticism given that it creates potentially more stoppages in a fixture. 

Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff, for example, used the rule superbly on Saturday night as he continuously, and correctly, challenged referee Stuart Berry. 

Kitshoff, himself, was also the victim of a yellow card after a captain's challenge from Bulls skipper Duane Vermeulen. 

Speaking after the match, White revealed that while he understood why the rule was being trialed, he found it "frustrating". 

"I think that it's frustrating, and it's not only frustrating for us, it's frustrating for the players and the supporters and people watching it on TV as well," said White.

"If you freeze frame anything, you can probably find a reason to penalise. There are probably 20 lineouts and 15 scrums and possibly 200 chances of a breakdown where you are either carrying the ball or defending.

"If you freeze frame all of those and you have the ability to look and see whether or not it's accurately done, you could be opening yourself up for a lot of scrutiny."

White, though, added that it was important to "adapt".

"I thought Kitshie (Kitshoff) was outstanding tonight in the way he used his captain's calls," said White. 

"He is obviously very calm and he's been around and the way he did it, he probably got a seven out of eight return which shows he is using it in the right way.

"But I am sort of concerned that we mustn't move away from the fact that it is a contact sport and people do run at each other.

"There is a chance that you get it wrong and there needs to be some sort of feel from the officials as to whether or not there was intent.

"It's new to us and I'm sure that everyone will sit and debate and maybe find a way in which we can have a happy medium."

White emphasised the responsibility the game had to encouraging more youngsters to play rugby by ensuring that it was as safe as possible, but he pleaded for consistency in officiating the laws and the captain's challenge, in particular. 

"There have been different interpretations on things that I saw in a New Zealand game, an Australian game and a South African game today, and I suppose that is the frustration," he said.

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