It has been an interesting weekend of Super Rugby with most of the talk afterwards about the two games in South Africa, and all for the wrong reasons.
The two games in question is the Lions against the Highlanders and the Stormers against the Crusaders.
In the one referee Rasta Rasivhenge have been criticised because of the high penalty count against the visitors. The Highlanders received 12 penalties against them and the home side only 3.
Supporters are crying foul and believe that Rasivhenge favoured the home side.
At Newlands South African TMO for the Stormers v Crusaders clash, Marius Jonker got a heavy backlash for judging a pass to Sevu Reece was forward after the try was awarded.
— JPVD (@jpvandiemel) May 19, 2019
Much of the talk since Saturday has been that visiting side gets the short-end of the stick when it comes to decisions in South Africa by South African referees.
Wrong decisions taking by match officials or not a few years ago SANZAAR decided to stop using neutral referees in Super Rugby and in my mind that is were the problems started and has just escalated to the monster we have today.
Referees will also be under much more scrutiny when they are in charge of these matches which involved teams from their own country.
Sure the braintrust from SANZAAR will say it is saving money which is a valid point, but to then keep the decisions and punishment for referees in the ‘secret society’ helps nobody.
This create an outburst normally from fans that they are getting robbed with our game suffering the most.
Look, social media and the comments and opinions is half of the time wrong because not all of us are experts in the laws of the game. Even myself criticise decisions to just later find out I am actually the one that is wrong.
This is not only isolated to South African, it happens in New Zealand, Australia and a matter of fact all over the world.
For me the problem is not just from SANZAAR and their referees, it actually starts at the players.
Players and coaches have become the masters of their own misery.
Referees are getting analysed as much as the opposition and 99% of the time players take it to the ultimate limited of the law. In some cases they even push the law as far as they can if the referees allow them to.
This results in players, coaches and fans getting upset when they do get a referee that enforce the laws of the game and they get penalise for things they normally get away with.
By now means am I trying to say that Marius Jonker or Rasta Rasivhenge was correct and all we have here is a bunch of wining fans.
The second part of the problems is the consistency of referees in our game and this has become the biggest enemy of the game which are driving fans away.
We would never want controversial decisions to influence the outcome of the game, it is not fair to the players and their fans.
At this stage rugby officials operate in a ‘secret society’ and untouchable according to most fans.
They are not allowed to be criticised which may be fine but the fact that SANZAAR have not once this year spoken out against bad calls in the game makes them easy targets for the general public.
The fans outside feels that poor performances from these officials, just get a slap on the wrist, and a suspension for one or two weeks just to see them come back and do the same mistakes again.
You also do not dare question SANZAAR or you may receive a letter from them saying you are bringing the game in disrepute and going to take some of your match fee.
There is a desperate need for more transparency between governing bodies like SANZAAR, and their biggest stakeholders, the fans.
For them to keep quiet does not help anybody and just make fans loosing faith in the game and the very systems that suppose to make it fair.