Sack the IRB over Rugby Championship referees
Referee Bryce Lawrence gestures for a scrum. AP Photo/Ross Land
It’s high time SANZAR used its considerable clout to take over Rugby Championship referee appointments from the toothless IRB.
The rubbish dished up by northern hemisphere refs so far has been a blight on the game. The players, fans, and sponsors deserve better.
It stands to reason southern hemisphere refs are better-equipped for internationals after controlling Super Rugby, the toughest provincial rugby tournament in the world, featuring the three top-ranked countries in world rugby.
What continues to amaze is the general apathy by rugby fans to accept such rubbish as part of the scene.
The most important person on the rugby paddock is the referee, who can make or break a game. But until those northern hemisphere refs accept they should be the 31st on the field, and not self-appointed No 1, there will always be this unacceptable clash.
Of the 12 Rugby Championship games, northern hemisphere refs have been, or will be, in charge of eight.
Farcical. A clear case of jobs for the boys.
Irishman Alain Rolland tops the list with three. He has already controlled the Wallabies-All Blacks tournament opener, and still has the Boks-Pumas, and Boks-All Blacks games to go.
So far, his rating is 4/10 max.
Welshman Nigel Owens has already had his two with the Wallabies against the All Blacks and Boks. Rating 3/10.
Frenchman Romain Poite controlled the All Blacks-Pumas game. Rating 3/10.
All three have suffered from the same shortcomings – inconsistency over advantage, scrummaging, and missing glaring offsides and knock ons.
And they lose any respect by constantly barking at the players like over zealous school-teachers, and persistent whistle-blowing.
The best referee so far by the length of the straight has been Steve Walsh, Kiwi-born-and-bred who moved across the ditch in 2009, and now represents the ARU.
Walsh has controlled his two, both between the Boks and Pumas, home and away.
He stands no nonsense, he’s strong in his rulings, and more importantly, he’s consistent. Rating 8/10.
In my book he’s taken over as the world’s best from South African Craig Joubert who will make his one and only Rugby Championship appearance with the Pumas-Wallaby game in Rosario.
That in itself is a disgraceful IRB decision. That the last Rugby World Cup final referee, in his own hemisphere, is granted just one game from 12 is also farcical, when inferior northern hemisphere refs like Rolland has three, and Owens two.
Still to come from the north, Englishman Wayne Barnes, the best of a bad bunch, and Irishman George Clancy, plus South African Jaco Peyper.
So the message is loud and clear for SANZAR to stand alone on this vital issue, and be in charge of their own domain.
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