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Who will have the balls?


Every man and his dog have had something to say about the performance of the referees in this years Super 14 competition, but most have just touched on the emotional side of it.

What we must not forget is the other consequences of these incompetent acts.  Now I know that there is still a lot of ifs and but involved with something like this. 

It is damn close to impossible to say with 100% conviction that the ref has had cost a team a game, but looking at strong probable’s, can paint the picture of what can be in the future, if referees do not start being careful in applying their trade.

I will highlight four games in which a wrong decision ended in a team losing the match which they in all probability would have won, and then we can investigate the consequences of that.

Firstly the game between the Force and the Cheetahs.  The probability that the Cheetahs could have won this one is great, if the referee didn’t make the mistake of awarding a penalty instead of free kick which it should have been.

Luckily for this referee the damage is minimal.  Both teams are out of the running of the competition, so the main damage for the Cheetahs will be pride.  Nothing more.

The second game I want to take a look at, again involves the Force.  This time against the Lions.  The disallowed try not only costed the Lions the game and it is as simple as that.  Anyone who watched that game would have seen that they were in command and heading for that win.

Now keep in mind that the Lions’ sponsorship is dependant on performance.  In the bigger picture, it might not have made a big difference today, but we can never know what could have been if they just one that game.  How different their season could have been.  Again no real influence, as both teams are out of the hunt.

The third game was actually one of the first, but I am slumping it with the fourth as the impact is very similar and both teams are still in with a shout.

Our old friend Willie Roos made seven errors in the build up of the try scored by Habana against the Stormers, effectively costing the Stormers the match.  Now if you go and add 3 points to the log total of the Stormers today it is easy to see what difference it would make, but that is not the only part of it.

The fourth game is the one between the Hurricanes and the Sharks.  Now no one can dispute that this mistake would have change the result.  The referee admitted the mistake.  Everybody knows it.

What is the result of this?  Despite the position on the log currently, there is one huge disadvantaged that has been caused to both the Hurricanes and the Stormers.  It could cost them a home semifinal and with a long shot a home final.  It is still possible, but they will have to work damn hard to get it.  Probability of it happening is very slim.

This results in a loss of income for the union.  A semifinal at home draws a huge crowd.  Gate income down the drain and anything else that goes with it.  Possible sponsorship that doesn’t come to light.  The list can be as long as one wants to make it.

Following the effect of a referee’s mistake in the World Cup, costing New Zealand a place in the semifinals, we can again look at the possible financial implications for not only the unions, but for the players and team management’s bonuses.

The question now is who will have the balls to actually to take these referees to task on this?

Will we see legal proceedings for the loss of income?  Will referees in future have to take out fidelity insurance to protect themselves and will insurance companies refuse to underwrite a referee if he has a history of incompetence?

And then lastly, will the people in charge of referees start to actually do their job in the interest of the game and not only protect their brotherhood?

These four games are the most serious mistakes I can remember, but we all know there were others.  When will it stop? 

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  1. The list goes on – The sharks game against the brumbies – ref blew two sets of rules in the second half

  2. I see no referance to a name so I presume you wrote this Donner?

    Good arti and yes, the effects are widespread.

    Interesting listening to Andre Watson on TV last night where he said that he (they) were incensed with the like of Leckie and some of the other (specifically Aus) refs and that they will oppose these guys reffing any matches in future.

    He said there is a system where they lose their position on respective panels meaning bad performances do affect their pockets – for example, when last did Roos ref a game?

    So it seems there is something in place and Watson last night actually put my fears on this issue at ease last night for the first time.

  3. Yip had some time to put pen to paper again.

    I know there is some sort of system in place, but for me that is still not good enough. Roos was a assistant in the last Bulls game. That gives him some kind of influence even though not as much as being in charge.

    Not being able to ref hits their pockets in a small way. I am talking major money lawsuits here.

    That will clear “their nasal passages”.

  4. It will never happen Donner, one thing you should know about rugby and the rugby fraternity, is that they protect their own.

    The rugby hierarchy will never let anyone challenge the establishment as it is then a sign of weakness.

    Just look at how they went about with McKeever when he tried it – right or wrong, he has been tainted through the whole incident as a maverick and not being good for the game.

    I am afraid that should serve as an indication to you and others on how things work in the ‘system’

  5. It seems we have (too) many
    laws on our books – Restriction
    of Trade etc. etc. but not one
    where you can file a suit for the
    results of incompetence.

    I mean, even the Eskom-fools are
    getting R17 million in bonuses.

  6. Morne,

    Like many yes it maybe wishful thinking, but still it is the way it should be.

    If someone’s actions causes me a loss of income, then it should be within my rights to do that.

  7. Sue the ref for the mistaken call, sue the player for the missed tackle, sue the coach for the wrong game-plan, and so on. It cannot work.
    The players and coaches face loss of income for poor performances, that is motivation enough.

    That system just need to be applied to the referees in a better way. Make the ref report cards public. Give the teams the right to veto refs from officiating their games.
    Fix the laws that gives the ref leeway to award any penalty for any offence purely based on his discretion.
    Based on the laws of “deliberate” or “repeated” the ref was perfectly correct in awarding the penalty against the cheetahs or the yellow cards against the sharks. Who said it was not “deliberate”. It was a judgement call that no one can question. Maybe he read the players minds. Or “repeated”. Who’s counting? How many is repeated anyway?

    Fix the laws.

    Black-ball the worst offenders, especially those that treats players with disrespect. SARU needs to start throwing its weight around in this matter. Refuse to allow Mr. “Choose Your Card” and Mr. “I let them play on while you talk to your men” to officiate any more matches with SA teams.
    That will get their attention and make them think twice.

  8. i thought the two yellow cards against the sharks was the worst bit of officiating so far. referee error i can accept, but when they hand out severe punishement destroying the contest, then i dont know what ppl pay money for.

  9. Donner
    Good article but you implicate the sharks should have lost against the Hurricane at the end the ref did messup but you fail to mention that the Hurricanes hooker admitted he never grounded the ball for his try but was awarded the try , so its 6 of one and half n dozen of the other it should still have beem n draw , what about the sharks vs brumbies ,this wasnt even bad refereeing it was pure bias

  10. sharks30,

    Like I said, there is so many instances this year where we can say the refs screwed up. As I stated this is four that where the probability is the greatest to have costed the team a game.

    The thing with these mistakes they make especially early in a game, is that alot of things could still happen.

    What makes the Canes one so defining is that it happened on the hooter. There was no time afterwards to get back.

    Understand this, I dont think what I am suggesting is going to happen, but it can be considered and the referees will have to start being careful. Eventually someone is going to get fedup with the “I am only human” excuse and take action.

    And if the evidence is going to be of high quality, they are going to win the case. Remember in civil law you only have to prove probability, not beyond a reasonable doubt.

  11. wat van openbare teregstellings?

    Willie Roos – heel eerste en dan die ou wat hom rate as n ref – meneer Andre Watson.

    Daarna neem ons al die kak kommentators…maar osn moet dit beperk tot 3 – want anders bly daar niks oor nie – Toks van der Blinde, Murray Mexted and Joost (breek die hek af) van der Westhuizen.

    Daarna – Bestuur..en omdat hulle die week in iedergeval in die moeilikheid is – kom ons vat – die Bulle se uitvoerende bestuur…

  12. PLOOS

    Fortunately they already got
    rid of Erroll Tobias.

    You can add that Saffa English
    guy who keeps on shouting at
    viewers to the list.

    I don’t hear Garth Wright anymore,
    and I thought he was quite good.

    But what grates me most is this new-found
    style of SA TV-directors that keeps on
    using a close-up shot in live play, and
    then continuously loses important action
    around rucks and mauls.

    It seems that none of them has much of
    an idea what the game is about.

  13. Donner
    Understand what you are saying , couldnt agree more , also Pietploos has n good point , ek stem saam met jou Willie Roos eerste en die skeidsregters se beskerm engel Andre Watson tweede

  14. Sharks 30…

    This is the first time that the Hurricane player said he didn’t ground the ball…….is this your opinion, or is it FACT. No-one in NZ has ever mentioned it so I doubt that it is valid.

    We have to get used to the fact that every Ref makes mistakes, exactly the same as every player makes mistakes. What is required is some mechanism so that the mistake can be overturned.

    What everyone also has to consider is “has SANZAR told the Refs to go easy on the reffing” in order to make the game a spectacle for the crowds, TV, sponsors etc.

  15. “What everyone also has to consider is “has SANZAR told the Refs to go easy on the reffing? in order to make the game a spectacle for the crowds, TV, sponsors etc.”

    Well obviously they didn’t heed that request. In any case it is a stupid request. The laws are there for a reason (however screwed up some of the laws may be). The laws need to be enforced.

    If relaxation of the laws is required to make the game a spectacle then what does that tell us about the laws?

  16. All this “roll away tackler” and “hands off blue/red/white” is nonsense anyway. Just encourages cheating.

  17. Patrick
    The non grounding of the ball is not my opinion it was in the S A newspers after the match , the comment was more or less that the New Zealand papers make n big noise out of what should have been n penalty try at the end but say very little or nothing when the canes hooker admited afterwards to not grounding the ball i did not see it so i am just repeating what i read , I agree some mechanism should be put in place to overturn bad decisions , everybody gets n bad call now and then but the ref’s are untouchable and nobody dares take them on why not ? this same question was asked after the sharks / brumbies match on “boots and all” , nothing happened to the ref no , official even mentioned it.

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