Following the controversial All Blacks vs South Africa match recently and with another one this weekend, Barry P takes a look at respect for referees in the modern game.
Be careful what you wish for: you might just get it…
The thing rugby fans most often herald as the reason they value rugby over any other team sport is the diversity inherent to the game. It draws on many different types of people to play it, but it also appeals to a wide variety of fans. The game is watched over by different types of official, they are in turn watched over by other officials with varying roles and responsibilities and there is an inherent respect for all involved.
Referees are everywhere. They are in the park. They are in your classroom. They inhabit every boozer and drinking hole that has a TV in the corner. Everyone knows the rules better than the man in the middle.
So during this World Cup there have been some public outpourings of vitriol directed at the real match officials. These men can rarely stand up for themselves and they are in the most exposed situation they could ever imagine. This is the most televised rugby event in history and they are right there in the mix, regularly disappointing one large section of the crowd.
Interesting blog post from the big man about life-time bans for eye-gouging:
Some of the comments following his article are enlightening (not to mention some of the stories recounted frightening). It is interesting too how some people (PDV, that loon from Stade) still seem intent on downplaying it or sidelining gouging as an issue – a 24-week ban is anti-French, really? Stade Owner Guazzini should be fined into 2020 by the IRB, till the only pink thing he can afford are those little 2p sugar mice, as should the South Africa coach have been before him.
“”The ERC wanted to make an example of a symbolic player of Stade Francais and of the French team which has never had a disciplinary problem. It’s not normal that a private organisation in Ireland prevents a club employee from working, from playing. It is we who pay him.” says Max. I assume he meant “a French team”. Fair enough Max, if you don’t like it then you can bugger off out of the Heineken Cup too (sorry Hugo, you’d be collateral damage). It’s another example of the French clubs (following what I have just decided to call Tincugate) playing by the rules when it suits them and railing against interference when it doesn’t. We’d miss the French flair for sure, but I’m not sure I would want to be part of a game where people thought that what Dupuy did was okay. Watch this and see if you agree:
One of the BBC commenters suggests 6 months for a first attempt, then a life ban for a second one. Sounds fair to me. Although he was raking rather than gouging by the look of things, Dupuy did it twice in the space of 30 seconds after checking to see if he was being watched. Abhorrent is a good word.
News was announced today that a conference of Union members, refereeing bodies and playing associations has recommended several of Rugby’s Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) to the IRB to be passed into law. For the most part it seems they have kept the fairly innocuous ones – although the 5 metre offside line has come in for criticism of late – such as law 6 or law 22, as well as legalising the things everyone did anyway like taking squint throws at quick lineouts, pre-gripping and lifting. The two “major” ones – dropping rolling mauls and unequal numbers at the lineout will be thrown out with the bathwater in an attempt to keep forwards in the pack and free up more space in midfield. Anything which gives our beleaguered backs is to be applauded. Although it is not yet official, it seems to be set in stone that the IRB would not go against these recommendations, so Munster and Italy will be happy… however still lurking in the background is the “everything’s a free kick” sanctions which are pending further review after being trialled in the Southern Hemisphere. Hopefully that one get’s the heave-ho too.
Now can we get back on with refereeing the laws that are in place – squint feeds, consistency at the breakdown etc?
ELVs recommended to be passed into law:
Law 6 – Assistant referees allowed
Law 19 – Kicking directly into touch from ball played back into 22 equals no gain in ground
Law 19 – Quick throw permitted in any direction except forward
Law 19 – Positioning of player in opposition to the player throwing-in to be two metres away from line-out and the line of touch
Law 19 – Pre-gripping of line-out jumpers allowed
Law 19 – Lifting in the line-out allowed
Law 19 – Positioning of receiver must be two metres away from line-out
Law 20 – Five-metre offside line at the scrum
Law 20 – Scrum-half offside line at the scrum
Law 22 – Corner posts no longer touch in goal
ELVs not recommended:
Law 17 – Maul, head and shoulders not to be lower than hips
Law 17 – Maul, pulling down the maul
Law 19 – Freedom for each team to determine line-out numbers
ELVs sent for further examination:
Sanctions and free-kicks