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Do officials crave the limelight too?




Officials are starting to act like neglected kids who have always sought attention with atrocious calls and decisions every week. It is as if they want to be in the headlines every week and for all the wrong reasons. Some may call the criticism unfair but its warranted with the number of high profile howlers growing by the week. Soon the question of match fixing will become part of the rugby conversation.  Instead of focusing on the rugby, most press conferences, around the world have resulted in talk of the referee decisions. Blues coach Tana Umaga the latest to highlight some inconsistencies. There were many a dubious call that are yet to be put to the fore.

  1. The neck roll on Schalk Ferreira by Sam Whitelock has yet to be cited and one has to wonder what the problem is. A result of the Southern Kings front row heading back home.
  2. It was almost the howler of the year for me, Jaco Peyper was about to send the Brumbies to the bin instead of the shower for punches. Had sanity not prevailed the Brumbies could have got away with that one.
  3. The punch by Nizaam Carr was missed amidst the punching row.
  4. Dillyn Lleyds’ try was actually inconclusive. There is a grey area on this one and I await an explanation from the South African referees on how this was a try.

Law 22.1 & 22.2 state- There are two ways a player can ground the ball:

(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required.

(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.

The list will go on, unless teams adapt on a game to game basis they will struggle. What you will be penalised for in one week, you will be allowed in another. The Reds-Blues clash was an example of an official not sure about the breakdown /scrum laws with some contentious calls. Surely there can be ways in which the officials fix this trend before it gets worse.

The use of neutral officials in clashes could be of help. Watching the Jaguares game against the Chiefs; one has to wonder what SANZAAR are a aiming at with the officials finding themselves making some rather one sided calls on occasion. One has to feel for the Argentinians who have had to face this all season.

All attack, no defence

The Lions managed to put the Cheetahs to the sword and further exposed the Bloemfontein side’s inability to tackle, cover the support runners and read the play of the opposition. The Cheetahs have a tournament high of 116 tackles. A further 38 more than the beleaguered Kings who show some bright sparks but lack the nous to dominate an 80 minute game. The Bloemfontein side is still in rebuilding but would have done well to focus on defence first this season to heal an Achilles heel that has derailed them in the last decade. The chances are looking good that South Africa will harbour at least two of the worst sides in the competition. While most sides will battle with balance the Cheetahs just seem to forget the entire aspect that is defence.

Team of the week:

My team of the week this weekend features a few surprise players and the top performers in:

Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls); Ruan Combrinck (Lions); Johnny-Ben Kotze (Stormers); Howard Mnisi (Lions); Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders); Elton Jantjes (Lions); Faf de Klerk (Lions); Jed Holloway (Waratahs); Sean McMahon (Rebels); Elliot Dixon (Highlanders); Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers); Blade Thomson (Hurricanes); Marcel van der Merwe (Blue Bulls); Malcolm Marx (Lions);  Sef Faagase (Reds)

Chiefs rotate for Force


The Chiefs, who collected their fourth win in a row after beating the Waratahs last Saturday have announced their team to play the Western Force on Friday 6 April (Good Friday) at 11.40 NZ time (7.40 local time).

Sharks make one change to starting XV


The Sharks have announced their team for their clash against the Waratahs with some expected changes.

Hurricanes 17, Highlanders 19


The Hurricanes will play their first home game of the season when the host the Higlanders at the Westpack Stadium.

Chiefs 29, Brumbies 22


The Chiefs will look to continue on their impressive run as the host Jake White’s Brumbies.

Super Rugby preview, Round 4


Only three South African sides are in action in Vodacom Super Rugby this weekend – the first of 2012 that doesn’t include any local derbies.

Fix the refs, not the laws


Three rounds of Super Rugby have dished up everything from the sublime right through to the ridiculous with some yawns in-between.

Bash is back


Peter Grant is back in the number 10 jersey for the Stormers when they host the Blues on Friday.

SANZAR to probe Keith Brown’s scrum call


A controversial late penalty, which sunk the Cheetahs in their clash against the Brumbies, will be investigated by SANZAR.

Kaino’s season over


Jerome Kaino’s Super Rugby season is over because he needs to undergo surgery to repair damage to a shoulder injury sustained in the Blues Round 2  match against the Chiefs.

Why the Bulls did not get <i>‘that’</i> penalty


There has been a lot of controversy following the Bulls defeat last night to the Blues especially the incident that followed after the final try was scored by Björn Basson.

Crusaders 19, Chiefs 24


The high-flying Chiefs will take on New Zealand’s most successful Super Rugby team in their make-shift home town of Napier in what promises to be an epic Kiwi derby.

Alberts back for Sharks


Willem Alberts is back in the starting line-up for the Sharks for their match against the Lions this weekend.

Higgenbotham & Faingaa return for Reds


Queensland Reds openside flanker Liam Gill earns his first starting opportunity of 2012 while Wallabies forwards Scott Higginbotham and Saia Faingaa return from injury for Saturday’s round three Super Rugby encounter against the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium.

Mitchell forced into changes


Lions coach John Mitchell made four changes to his starting lineup against the Sharks in their Super Rugby match in Durban on Saturday.

One forced change for Bulls


Jano Vermaak will make his first start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday when the home side plays the Blues at Loftus Versfeld.

TV Ratings drop in round 2 of SupeRugby


Tank Lanning through his blog, Frontrowgrunt, published the television audience figures so far in SupeRugby

Loads of changes for Crusaders


Crusaders team to play the Chiefs in Napier The Crusaders coaches have announced the team to play the Chiefs in Napier this Friday, and it includes a number of changes from the team which met the Highlanders last weekend.

Barnes back for Tahs


Berrick Barnes will return to the HSBC Waratahs starting line up for this Saturday’s round three Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Coenie back for Brumbies clash


The Toyota Cheetahs have announced their team to take n the Brumbies for their first game on tour.

Hougaard suspended for 1 week


The Bulls Francois Hougaard was suspended for one week following a tip tackle on the Cheetahs’ Robert Ebersohn.

Stormers 15, Sharks 12


The last game of Round 2 sees a coastal derby where the Stormers will host the Sharks at Newlands.

Cheetahs 19, Bulls 51


The Bulls travel to Bloemfontein in what is always a very bruising battle.

Reds 35, Force 20


Super Rugby champions, the Reds, will host the Western Force in an all-Aussie derby in Brissie.

Highlanders 27, Crusaders 24


The troubled Highlanders host the most successful NZ Super Rugby franchise in an all-NZ derby – expect loads of passion in this one.

SA wants to wreck a ‘great’ competition


Our old favourite, Spiro Zavos believes the Super Rugby conference system is a winning recipe, and that everything must be done in order to stop the South Africans wrecking it.

Lions 28, Hurricanes 30


The Lions will be aiming for their 2nd win in a row at home against the Hurricanes.

Blues announce touring squad for SA leg


The Blues have announced their touring squad for their South African tour of SupeRugby.

Alberts out of Newlands clash


The Sharks has decided not to risk Willem Alberts for their match against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.

Crusaders team announced


The Crusaders announced their team to take on the Highlanders.

Rebels announce team for Tahs match


Damien Hill has named his 22-man squad for Friday night’s blockbuster clash against the Waratahs at AAMI Park with kick-off scheduled for 7.40pm.

Unions already lining up for Highlanders franchise


The dust has hardly settled in New Zealand with the news of the impending liquidation of Otago Rugby Union with Taranaki Rugby Union now bidding for what should soon be a defunct Highlanders franchise.

Grant straight back into action for Stormers


Allister Coetzee named a strong side to take on the Sharks at DHL Newlands on Saturday at 19h10.

Olivier back for Bulls


Three time Super Rugby gold medallist Wynand Olivier returns to the Vodacom Bulls team for their second round Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Cheetahs name team for Bulls


The Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls meet on Saturday, 3 March at 17:05 in their first Vodacom Super Rugby home game of the season.

Kanko blow for Sharks


The Sharks have received further bad news on the injury front when eightman Ryan Kankowski was ruled out for at least a month due to a broken thumb.

Waratahs change one for Rebels


Former Australian Sevens captain Bernard Foley will wear the No. 15 jersey when the HSBC Waratahs take on the Melbourne Rebels this Friday night at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

Chiefs name team for Blues


The Chiefs have announced their team to take on old rivals, the Blues in their epic Round Two Investec Super Rugby battle at Waikato Stadium on Friday night.

Blues change two for Chiefs


There are only two changes from last week to the Blues line-up for their Friday night encounter with the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Lions make 3 changes for Canes


The Golden Lions Rugby Union announced the MTN Lions team to play in their second match of the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby competition against the Hurricanes on Friday, 2 March 2012 at a press conference this afternoon.

Bulls lose Lionel for Super season


The utility back, Lionel Cronjé, has been ruled out of the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

Alberts cleared to play


Sharks loose forward Willem Alberts has been cleared fit to play in their Super Rugby clash against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.

Sadie out, Olivier back


Johann Sadie has been ruled out of action for between two to three weeks after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Sharks on Friday.

Otago Rugby Union to be liquidated


The Otago Rugby Union will be placed in liquidation on Friday, potentially winding up one of New Zealand’s strongest provincial teams which has produced 156 All Blacks in 131 years.

News on Schalk not good


DHL Stormers captain Schalk Burger left the field early in the match against the Hurricanes and the mood surrounding his injury is not good.

Andries Strauss cited, suspended


Andries Strauss from the Cheetahs has been cited following a dangerous tackle in the match between the Lions and the Cheetahs.

Lions 27 v Cheetahs 25


We close off the weekend’s SupeRugby action where the two feline opponents will start a cat-fight in Johannesburg.

Stormers 39, Hurricanes 26


The first inter-conference match will take place at a sold-out Newlands between the Stormers and the Hurricanes.

Waraths 21, Reds 25


The second all-Aussie derby promises to be a cracker! A sort of new-look Tahs side will host the 2011 SupeRugby Champs in Sydney.

Chiefs 19, Highlanders 23


It’s another NZ derby to start the Saturday list of matches as the Chiefs host the Skirts!