Jake pleads for review of 'illogical' water break rule as he bemoans Bulls' indiscipline

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Referee Andrea Piardi (M) with his assistants. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)
Referee Andrea Piardi (M) with his assistants. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)
  • Bulls mentor Jake White believes serious discussions are needed to review the current water break regulations during matches.
  • He argues that its arbitrary application disrupts the flow and shape of games and invites needless scrutiny.
  • But the forthright coach also pointed out that his team needs to address its overall discipline with a three-match tour coming up.

Bulls mentor Jake White implored World Rugby and local bodies to have a re-look at the current water break regulations.

The rule, which allows for two short intervals per half, is under scrutiny again after it directly contributed to the men from Pretoria's 28-14 victory over Connacht at Loftus taking over two hours to complete.

Admittedly, a few injuries and several long TMO deliberations also played a big part, but there was little doubt the overall spectacle was adversely affected.   

"The one area we need to look at are these water breaks. I'm not quite sure about them taking place at so many different times as determined by the match officials," said White.

"I don't know how other teams feel, but I generally don't think it's helping us. These breaks could come at a really important time in the game, like when you're building pressure.

"We've got to look at it again, either it has to be in specific slots like every 20 minutes or just can them."

READ | Bonus point Bulls stay unbeaten as Piardi's pedantic whistle sours Loftus spectacle

The general understanding for this year's URC is that the slots should take place after 15 and 30 minutes in each half.

Yet, as Italian referee Andrea Piardi had to juggle other stoppages, his water breaks bordered on becoming arbitrary.

"I don't think it's really about the weather, about whether it's hot or not. What just needs to happen is for the officials to decide what time these breaks take place," said White. 

"The referee is worrying about so many other things too that he might just decide: 'Water break!'. I don't understand what the logic is when it comes to calling those intervals.

"They open themselves up to scrutiny. For example, if they call a break just when a team is starting to get into the game or has a great opportunity, you take away that momentum.

"You're inviting discussions that really can be avoided. We have half-time, then straight after that we kick the ball down the field, Connacht dot down and a second later their No 3 prop is getting attention. That's fine because maybe that guy really needs it.

"But then we call the water break a few minutes later? It's a domino effect of what happens in those 10 to 15 minutes that influences the rhythm of both teams.

"We've got to have a discussion about whether we really need them or not. Of course there will be times when I'd love one because we're under the pump, but that's secondary to a game losing its shape."

Further undermining the flow of the match was the fact that Piardi awarded an astonishing 35 penalties, of which 20 went against the Bulls, who also had to cope with no less than three yellow cards shown to Marco van Staden, Johan Goosen and Jan-Hendrik Wessels.

White, who pointed out that Piardi was the man with the whistle in their famous semifinal victory over Leinster in Dublin last season, professed his general satisfaction with how the match was officiated.

He was fine with Goosen's contentious sanctioning for head clash that was thoroughly accidental, merely noting that the law needs to be applied consistently.

"He was unlucky. David Kriel is busy tackling the halfback who's half trying to go forward because he's been caught behind the gainline. As he moves forward, Johan is standing and watching whether the tackle will be completed because he wants to go for the steal.

"If he goes down too late, he can't steal and then gets whacked in the face accidentally and gets a yellow card. That is the law. Head to head contact is a card. 

"Yet all we want is for that to also be applied consistently if it happens again."

While praising his troops' excellent defensive effort, White made no excuses for their indiscipline and issued a stark warning for their upcoming three-match tour.

"I can't sugarcoat the fact that we shot ourselves in the foot at times. We didn't some stupid things," he said.

"If we're going to play like that away from home and give teams with their crowds behind them chances to play 15 against 14 for 30 minutes, we won't win many games."

The Bulls depart for Scotland on Monday. 

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