White: Ref bashing must stop!

Jake White (Gallo Images)
Jake White (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Jake White has expressed concern with the amount of pressure referees are under and the torrent of abuse they receive for bad decisions.

This follows 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 last Saturday, including a Facebook petition calling for the referee's axing which has garnered 63 000 likes to date.

Speaking to BallzRadio’s website, White, currently in South Africa on a break from his duties as Brumbies coach, said that if people continued to direct abuse and vitriol towards referees, the game could suffer as a result.

“We have to be so careful. There are not many (top quality) referees in the game and if we are going to chase every ref from the game for a bad decision, we’re not going to have a game.”

“Anyone who has reffed knows that in the early stages of a game it is important to assert control over the players.“

“After the fracas (following Du Plessis’ tackle on Dan Carter) the referee was probably worried the match would turn into a free-for-all, and (not having seen the arm in the tackle) he probably gave the yellow to Bismarck to calm things down, believing that it wouldn’t influence the result of the game.“

“Then, his worst nightmare happened... when Bismarck lifted his elbow against Liam Messam in the second half, the ref was forced to give him a second yellow,” White said.

White said that hindsight was a perfect science, and that referees were under a great deal of pressure to make split-second decisions on the spot.

White sympathised with fans who felt let down by the end of the contest, but suggested that the IRB could in future prevent a match situation of 14 players facing 15 players by allowing a binned player to be substituted.

Following the Springboks’ loss to the All Blacks the stakes could not be higher, but Springbok fans can still look forward to their do-or-die clash at Ellis Park.

White said the Springboks still had the perfect opportunity to win the Rugby Championship at Ellis Park to erase all doubt as to how the result at Eden Park could have turned out.
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