Former Bok skipper calls for refereeing consistency

Jerome Garces (Gallo Images)
Jerome Garces (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers believes there will almost certainly be officiating controversy at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

Refereeing continues to be firmly in the international spotlight, with concerns over continued offsides defensive lines and infringements at the breakdown going unpunished central to the discussion. 

There are, across the spectrum, still many grey areas when it comes to officiating and over the course of the season there is seldom a weekend that passes without a refereeing talking point. 

The history of the World Cup is also drenched in controversy. 

In 2015, South African Craig Joubert's role in the quarter-final between Australia and Scotland was highly-publicised when he awarded the Wallabies a late penalty for accidental offsides that won them the game. 

In 2011, Bryce Lawrence blew the Springboks out of the game in their quarter-final against Australia in a refereeing performance that is still spoken about to this day. 

In 2007, the TMO referral of England wing Mark Cueto's disallowed try against the Boks in the World Cup final would be replayed countless times in the years to come, with opinion still divided on whether it should have been given as a try. 

Also at that 2007 tournament, Wayne Barnes allowed a late French try that saw them knock New Zealand out of the World Cup, only for replays to show that it should have been called a forward pass.

Now, as the 2019 showpiece draws nearer, refereeing is central once more. 

De Villiers, speaking at a Laureus Sport for Good breakfast at the Southern Sun in Cape Town on Wednesday, says it is inevitable that there will be drama in Japan. 

"There will be controversy, purely because of the human factor," he said.

"Decisions will be made ... and sometimes decisions get made that we don't really understand.

"I think all that we can ask for as spectators and players is that we see consistency throughout.

"The problem comes in when one guy officiates differently to the other and when you get blown up for one thing the one day, and then the opposing team does the same the next day and it doesn't happen.

"We've got to understand the human factor of it as well. They will make mistakes in the same way that players will make mistakes. Hopefully they aren't mistakes that will cause one team to win that didn't really deserve to win.

"It's unfortunately the nature of the game and hopefully we get the rub of the green this time around."

The Boks play defending champions New Zealand in Yokohama on September 21 in their tournament opener and Frenchman Jerome Garces will oversee that clash. 


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