Brenden Nel’s report on South African referees, Craig Joubert and Pro Legoete, being in hot water over their shocking decisions to red card Waratahs lock Pat O’Connor does little to ease the growing public sentiment that SANZAR’s referees body has lost the plot.
On Tuesday SANZAR referee’s boss, Lyndon Bray, publicly criticised the decision of South African duo Craig Joubert and Pro Legoete for the incident over the weekend which saw Waratahs lock O’Connor red carded in the 69th minute of the match against the Bulls for an apparent head-butt incident.
Video evidence however showed nothing of the sort and the O’Connor case was rightfully thrown out.
Given the context of the decision where the Waratahs were in the middle of an amazing fight-back with a great chance to snatch a victory and strengthen their position for a play-off spot, it was nothing short of shocking.
The decision deserved the public criticism it received, and perhaps if it was an isolated incident, the wrath of SANZAR and SANZAR referee’s boss Lyndon Bray.
“We reviewed the game on Monday night and clearly the decision was wrong,” Bray said. “There are two aspects which are frustrating. The description of the event was not very accurate.
“The process between the referee and the assistant referee was not good. It never fleshed out the details of the incident.”
Bray said he had held a conversation with Joubert on how the incident should have been handled.
“I’ve spoken to Craig Joubert about how he could have handled it better, to get better information on which to base his decision. Craig was very disappointed he ended up with that decision.”
What I find extraordinary however is that in two weeks of absolutely shocking performances by referees in Super Rugby, only this decision prompted Bray to make a public statement.
Games in recent weeks which included the Reds/Crusaders match, the Hurricanes/Lions match, Cheetahs/Sharks match to name but a few, also included some shocking refereeing or assistant refereeing decisions which directly influenced not only the outcome of the match, but the play-off aspirations of teams involved in these matches.
Even more extraordinary, is that some of the matches mentioned, actually saw SANZAR backing the referees in question defending their decisions!
In a day and age where public support grows by the week for technology to play a bigger role in the game, and where the consistency in referee decisions and SANZAR disciplinary processes are continually questioned, Lyndon Bray’s public utterances might actually be worse than some of the actual on-field refereeing decisions.
I mean seriously, how can we expect consistency by on-field officials when their governing body is as consistent as the recent weather patterns in Cape Town?