Watson hits back at Lions coach for ref rant


South African referees boss André Watson says Lions coach John Mitchell was wrong to criticise the assistant referees after his side lost to the Sharks in Durban over the weekend.


Image: Gallo Images

Mitchell was unhappy over two decisions in the build-up to Sharks tries and also about the general efforts from the inexperienced duo of Quinton Immelman and Marc van Zyl, who were referee Mark Lawrence’s assistants.

Mitchell also criticised the Television Match Official (TMO), Johan Meuwesen.

“There were some dubious officials tonight, so we’re going to have to report the TMO on the evidence that we have.

“That’s something we’ll have to deal with upstairs.

“They won’t change the result, but clearly [the officials] need to be accountable at this level,” Mitchell told SAPA after his side’s 32-20 loss.

But Watson disagrees with the Lions coach.

“They (the assistants) made no conspicuous errors and only did their job.

“And they are highly specialised assistant referees who are respected by the IRB and SANZAR,” Watson told the Beeld newspaper.

According to Watson there’s too much doubt to say with certainty that the wrong calls were made.

“With (Lwazi) Mvovo’s try three camera shots did not show his foot touching the sideline and the fourth one also wasn’t clear enough.

“Mitchell may have had a case with the alleged forward pass (which led to Meyer Bosman’s try) but one also can’t say with certainty it was forward.”

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  1. of course!!! The refs club will always cover for each other! I do the same as ref but I am also a coach so see both sides here…

    What should be the process here? When you have a 50/50 call to make do you err on the defending or attacking side? Do we want to reward attacking play or defensive play? Of course it all depends on who you support but what do we as fans want to see?

    IMO err on the attacking side – 50/50 calls should go to the side making the play. :fishing:

  2. I expected no less from Watson … and that is what is wrong with the whole setup. Why things are getting worse and not better. “Rugby” must clean this up because it is not gaining more supporters as it is.

    Mitchell is sticking his neck out and will get flack for it, but how many coaches/players/admins are not feeling the exact same way … wanting to say something but are too scared to do so. Unfortunately it will look like sour grapes.

  3. We have reached the situation now where the match officials are becoming “stars” with fancy hairstyles and booked sessions at expensive salons. They want to be seen as deal breakers on the field of play instead of being the grey man using his “office” to promote the game of Rugby. They now also want articles focussing on them in magazines and do speaking tours. Not good.

  4. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 10:51 am: This comment from Morné in a newer thread is in line with mine: “And I hate to paint all referees with the same brush because there are some very good ones, but you can almost also see this in their attitudes on the field where their self-importance is visibly projected in how they communicate with players.”

    If it was the kakest job there is no-one would do it. Can’t be thát bad.

  5. Reply to Kat @ 12:37 pm:

    “can’t be that bad”

    Try it a few times! thankless job! If both teams are unhappy with you you probably did a good job :weed:
    If no one talks to you after the game then you did an excellent job

    However you need a thick skin!

  6. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 12:45 pm: In my mind the officiating problems under discussion relate to the professional arena only where games are broadcasted on pay TV. That is where rugby as a sport is showcased to the world, competing for viewers with other sport. That is where people see the mess and turn their backs on the game. I genuinely struggle to follow pro rugby these days with all the officiating challenges. The CC final last year was a nightmare for me when the Sharks clearly knocked the balls before scoring a try. A TMO using technology would not have awarded that try but fortunately it didn’t determine the outcome … but it could have if the game was closer.

  7. Reply to Kat @ 1:10 pm:

    IMO the rot starts with the Australian notion that it is ENTERTAINMENT and therefore they want the game to flow!

    For that to happen the referees start to ignore some laws and implement others sporadically! That is killing our game.

    Apply the letter of the Law – the game will clean it self up and become a better spectacle for all to enjoy.

    my 2cents worth!

  8. Refs will always make mistakes, they are only human, but when they consistently do that becomes a problem, I don’t see why coaches can’t have a moan if the reffing is bad, it brings attention to problems that are otherwise just left and not sorted.

  9. Reply to Treehugger-shark @ 2:10 pm:

    I have analysed referees for agroup in SA before and you will be surprised at how accurate the referees are when whatching the game without alc, knowing the outcome and being objective (emotionless) – however the problem is that you can give any of 5 penalties at every breakdown and you will be correct…

    That needs to be cleared up.

    Someone suggested 2 referees – That imo will cause absolute chaos! Both referee immediately blow the whistel and penalize an infringement at the breakdown, they look at each other and the arms in the opposite direction Both are right but who gets the penalty :pot:

  10. I mostly have no idea what the ruck penalties are for.

    Sometimes rucks get allowed where you would think there should have been a penalty, and sometimes the other way

    The best a side can hope for is consistency through the game. The players must be totally confused – I know I am

  11. If I were Andre I’d be a bit careful mouthing off at Mitch… Mitch’s offices are right next door to his and Mitch is known to have a little bit of a temper…

    I think it is clear all the fans are sick and tired of the weak and inconsistent “interpretative” nonsense blowing refs indulge their egos in…

  12. It just seems to be getting to finicky, so much you have to look out for, but the refs often seem to miss the most blatant transgressions.

  13. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 8:33 am:

    And the Cheetahs game… for every ball Brussouw mecurially pilfered… others would turn it over to opposition… extremely frustrating… AJ undoing all his own good work in this respect…