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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


International Rugby: IRB puts it's foot down.

The IRB have finally lost patience with the interminable back-chatting to officials and subtle, sometimes not so subtle, psychological intimidation players exhibit.

There is going to be a worldwide crackdown on those players complaining to referees or touch judges about their decisions. Warnings will be given, but then penalties and even yellow cards are possible, on the grounds of persistent law breaking.

There is a long held myth that the captain has a right to question a referee on why a decision was given against his team.

In fact, the law book is quite clear, "the referee is the sole judge... of the laws ... and no one has the right to dispute a decision". Yes, not even the captain.

Referees, in order to promote transparency, allowed a culture to develop whereby it has become routine for a captain to question his decisions, point out opposition infringements and plead for clemency.

This leeway has been exploited to the point where all and sundry now feel it is their right to conduct a discourse with the officials.

We have seen the likes of George Gregan and Matt Dawson vehemently disagreeing with referees to the point where the tendons were sticking out on their necks, their face suffused with blood.

It is precisely images such as these that have led Paddy O'Brien, IRB refereeing supremo, to act, "It has become an epidemic. It is a bad part of the game."

O'Brien vividly remembers a recent match, "At every decision, there was this talking going on," he said. "More recently, I went to watch a club game in Dublin and heard it there, too."

"There is nothing in the law book that says players have the right to make comments to a referee. It is a privilege on their part, but sadly it has been abused."

"When players show clear dissent at a referee's decision, crowds can get involved and it becomes a thin dividing line. It certainly is not in the spirit of the game."

"We don't want to be stupid about this, but we are going to act to stop it,"

Half the time, players or captains are complaining simply to stop the other side taking a quick penalty. It is slowing the game up and has to be tackled.

In fact, the law book says that players must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship. Clearly, this falls within that particular category.

O'Brien has told all the referees handling Six Nations matches in the next two months to crack down hard on the trait. He believes that a couple of early penalties in the first few minutes of a game, as soon as the complaining starts, will solve most of the problems. If that doesn't do it, referees will be told they have the right to issue yellow cards for persistent offenders.
What? No moans? Even when a ref screws up like Paul Honis did in the Bok test v Ireland in 2004?
(Letting a try be scored after telling Smit to talk to his team.)

No, quite frankly I agree players like Gregan (and Joost long before him!) took it much too far.
Now if only the refs can also get their act together and make less mistakes...
I agree boertjie.

Look it has become an ugly part of the game, but then the IRB should also focus on upping the standard of refereeing and stop this trend that NH refs blow the game differently than SH refs.

Another suggestion is that the IRB clamps down on bad refereeing when it is blatantly obvious and is transparent in its decision making and disciplinary process when wrapping ref's on the knuckles.

I.e. release a monthly report on which refs were reprimanded and what their punsihment was.

The only thing that pisses supporters of is this aparent 'club' that exists where the officials - who not only controls matches, but in some cases even certain teams and players' future in the game - get away with murder at times.

Bring in disciplinirary measures against official and make it transparent and I will fully support a cause such as this.
The refs started the problem when they began coaching and yacking during games. Apart from a few words here and there, there really isn't any need for refs to say much. They certainly don't need to say "hands off!" all the time.

If refs were more taciturn and decisive, the players might get the message in the end.
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