Lawrence blunders his way out of a RWC semi-final

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    Bryce Lawrence, match referee. (AAP Images)

    Bryce Lawrence, match referee. (AAP Images)

    Controversial Kiwi referee Bryce Lawrence has run his Rugby World Cup race – and the relief is palpable. The IRB has appointed Irishman Alain Rolland to control the Wales-France semi on Saturday, and South African Craig Joubert the All Blacks-Wallabies clash on Sunday.

    Exit Lawrence.

    And before the bleeding hearts tear hamstrings racing to his side, Lawrence wasn’t only a bad referee for winning and losing teams. He was bad for rugby.

    That was his greatest crime.

    Rugby has only one chance every four years to showcase itself, the time to swing fringe dwellers and disbelievers into full time supporters.

    Lawrence not only killed off any remote interest from the fringe and beyond, but many long-term supporters as well. It’s not all Lawrence’s doing – it’s been a refereeing disaster throughout the tournament.

    But Lawrence has attracted the most attention, because he’s an attention seeker.

    To his credit, Lawrence has admitted to making multiple mistakes against the Wallabies in the shock 15-6 loss to Ireland, especially scrummaging, which accounted for six penalties at critical stages.

    “And there were other mistakes as well,” Lawrence admitted to publicly, without being specific.

    Retiring Springbok captain John Smit swooped on those admissions by giving Lawrence a gobfull after the 11-9 quarter final loss to the Wallabies.

    “His refereeing of the breakdown was disgraceful. He let David Pocock get away with murder. Little wonder he won the man-of-the-match award,” beefed Smit.

    Even Wallaby coach Robbie Deans chimed in with a rare chip: “Both sides were hard done by.

    “It was a hotly-contested area, and maybe it evened out. Maybe it was fair”.

    But there are no maybes where Lawrence has been criticised most – in New Zealand. The media and fans are embarrassed one of their own has generated so much adverse publicity.

    The well-read internet publication, Trueblue NZ, sums up the reaction in general to the refereeing standard at the seventh Rugby World Cup:

    “One of the worst outcomes of the IRB’s management is that games are now won and lost based on the capricious judgment of referees, and their wildly changing approach to the rules.

    “Very few referees do a good job. But too many are hopeless, and the most hopeless of them all is Bryce Lawrence”.

    Bleeding hearts, have a Bex and a good lie down.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (285)

    • October 11th 2011 @ 5:35am
      Weatherman said | October 11th 2011 @ 5:35am | ! Report

      Would Bryce Lawrence and his referring colleagues benefit from this helpful er instructional video?

      • Roar Guru

        October 11th 2011 @ 9:24am
        Seiran said | October 11th 2011 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        Very educational

      • October 11th 2011 @ 9:38am
        johnny-boy said | October 11th 2011 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        That should be illegal 🙂 Yowser.

      • October 11th 2011 @ 6:41pm
        Mike said | October 11th 2011 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

        What was I saying…?

      • October 13th 2011 @ 6:04pm
        Craig said | October 13th 2011 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

        Umm what were they talking about? :p

      • October 13th 2011 @ 8:56pm
        Stan Epson said | October 13th 2011 @ 8:56pm | ! Report

        The most absent referee in any game at any time of history. Saddest part is he robbed the defending champs of the possibility of becoming the 1st side to ever defend the title, and their form in THAT match certainly showed that they could have. Yes he blew a rubbish game, but SA were by far the worst affected. Its not wonder everyone’s screaming match-fixing! No matter what we say, it can’t be taken back, crucial match, done & dusted, just another idiot ruining one of the last true blue sports. He needs to be banned for life and fined and make a public apology, its a professional game, shouldn’t the ref be a professional too…?

        • October 13th 2011 @ 9:12pm
          Mike said | October 13th 2011 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

          On the contrary Stan, Australia were far worse effected by Lawrence’s refereeing than SA. It is most unlikely that the boks would have got such possession or territory against Australia under another referee. You certainly haven’t managed that in recent years.

          Have a look at previous matches between us: Australia won 5 out of our 6 previous matches, and all were high scoring games (except for the match in Durban refereed by Bryce Lawrence – we won that, but only just). In this match, with Lawrence’s very loose policing of the rucks, SA were able to kill the ball and stop us getting it to our backs.

          You can’t take advantage of loose refereeing at one stage in the game and then complain when that same loose refereeing means you don’t get penalties at another point in the game.

          I don’t doubt the Bokke commitment. And they were badly affected by injuries, losing Bakkies and Frans before the match and Brussow was barely fit and didn’t last long. So it was a heroic effort. But the bottom line is you were fortunate to get the possession and territory you did. You couldn’t convert it into points (and on at least three occasions you didn’t take shots at goal that were on offer, but went for touch instead). It was a noble effort but Australia defended their line mightily and in the end it wasn’t enough.

          • October 13th 2011 @ 11:44pm
            Jerome said | October 13th 2011 @ 11:44pm | ! Report

            Awesome Mike, or not . Winninf the last 5 out of six hardly plays a part in the game .South africa was all over Australia ,regardless of the history of head to heads between the two sides . So why not be a man about it .The whole world including the referees have stated he blundered . The fundemental of rugby is to create phase ball and draw in players to find gaps. South africa was denied the opportunity to get second phase ball .Keep believing it was a monster performance from Australia . That is typical but watch the game again.

            • October 14th 2011 @ 8:45am
              Mike said | October 14th 2011 @ 8:45am | ! Report


              Let me be clear on why I was bringing up South Africa’s poor recent record against Australia; It was not in order to say that Wallabies were likely to win this game. But several South Africans have posted to the effect: “We were expected to win the game, so that shows Lawrence’s refereeing cost us the match”. The short answer is, “No, there was no such expectation”.

              “So why not be a man about it.”

              I agree, you should. Lawrence was the best referee that South Africa could have for this match, and the worst for Australia. Not because he is one-sided, but because his loose refereeing of the breakdown stifles the backline play that we rely on. It is no accident that our two games under Lawrence in the last two months have been very hard for the Wallabies – against South Africa two months ago, yes we won, but it was a very near thing and our backs never really got going. And against Ireland a month ago even more so.

              “The whole world including the referees have stated he blundered.”

              No, they haven’t actually. Mind you, I agree that your Watson has, which is a real laugh.

              “The fundemental of rugby is to create phase ball and draw in players to find gaps. South africa was denied the opportunity to get second phase ball.”

              Australia were denied this far more than South Africa, and it hurt us more. The only reason you were able to camp in our half was because you played to Lawrence’s very loose interpretation of the ruck and employed tactics that would have seen you penalised off the park under another ref.

              If both teams had been able to get second phase ball then the Wallaby backs would have got into the game, and you know where that would have led – yet another 30 or 40 point scoreline by Wallabies. Be thankful you were able to make it as close as you did.

              “Keep believing it was a monster performance from Australia”

              It was a monster performance by both teams. South Africa put in a huge effort. They also played to the ref very well, but in the end they just couldn’t manage it. They had too many key injuries, they took the wrong options especially in kicking for touch, and the Wallabies defence was too strong.

              “That is typical but watch the game again.”

              That is exactly what you need to do. Numerous South African infringements were let pass. The score should have been much higher for the Wallabies.

              • October 15th 2011 @ 2:52am
                Dan said | October 15th 2011 @ 2:52am | ! Report

                Mike: why dont you just admit that we should have lost that game?
                SA were all over us and Pocock stole so many of there ball is not even funny! Ref’s are there for a reason and Bryce did not do his job… If you did not do your work correctly you either get fired or at least get a warning. All im saying it takes a man to admit that we got away with murder.

              • October 15th 2011 @ 11:03am
                Mike said | October 15th 2011 @ 11:03am | ! Report

                “Mike: why dont you just admit that we should have lost that game?”

                For several reasons, Dan:

                (a) Because we shouldn’t have. People who know something about rugby look at a whole game, not just a few convenient parts of it .

                (b) Because I don’t have a very short memory. I know why many Australians were worried before the game and hence why so many blog articles were written about it: Lawrence is very loose in his policing of the game; his matches tend to be low scoring affairs because the backs can’t get room to run; and that hurts Australia.

                (c) “SA were all over us” – Exactly. The question is WHY were they allowed to be all over us.

                (d) “Pocock stole so many of there ball is not even funny” – Actually no he didn’t – this is a very one-dimensional view of the game. There was plenty of pilfering and spoiling by both sides. But I agree that the boks were better at spoiling, and would have been at least as good at pilfering if Brussow hadn’t gone off early.

                (e) “Ref’s are there for a reason and Bryce did not do his job” – My point exactly, thank you. His failure to do his job hurt us, just as it did in our two previous games under him.

                “All im saying it takes a man to admit that we got away with murder” – No, it takes a man to admit that the Boks were very lucky to do as well as they did. It also takes a man to have opinons of his own and not just parrot the opinions of others. 😉

              • October 15th 2011 @ 5:42pm
                Dan said | October 15th 2011 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

                Mike: So you are saying that I don’t know anything about the game, for your information I have been a coach for 25 years so I think i know some part of the game. If you look at some of the “few convenient part” you would see that we slowed down and even stole the ball off the at crucial times when they where on attack and the two forward passes was not forward, lucky for us the were called forward. So put a lit on it we made it and they didn’t!

              • October 15th 2011 @ 9:18pm
                Mike said | October 15th 2011 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

                Dan, there are plenty even on South african blogs who agree that the passes were forward, and plenty on the Roar as well. If you want to say they weren’t, well suit yourself.

                Your following comment shows that you still don’t get it:

                “If you look at some of the “few convenient part” you would see that we slowed down and even stole the ball off the at crucial times when they where on attack”

                Of course. Just as if you look at other parts you will see the Boks doing the same thing. That is the way the referee interpreted the game, and the way both teams played. For some reason you seem to think that only the Boks were allowed to take advantage of this referee’s style – suit yourself, but don’t expect others to agree with you on that one.

          • October 15th 2011 @ 5:04am
            Rob said | October 15th 2011 @ 5:04am | ! Report

            Possession is nothing without momentum. You can have the ball for 80 minutes and not score if the opposition can slow or kill the ball. The Wolrd Cup is now a farce and whoever wins will always have detractors saying it was an illegitimate tournament.

            • October 15th 2011 @ 10:22am
              Rugby Diehard said | October 15th 2011 @ 10:22am | ! Report

              “The World Cup is now a farce and whoever wins will always have detractors saying it was an illegitimate tournament.” – maybe for you!

              “Possession is nothing without momentum. You can have the ball for 80 minutes and not score if the opposition can slow or kill the ball.” – Or maybe you can have possession for 70% of the game and just not have the speed and skill in older legs to get you over the line.

      • October 15th 2011 @ 4:24pm
        Marnus said | October 15th 2011 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

      • October 18th 2011 @ 11:23am
        Danie said | October 18th 2011 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        As a former referee myself for almost 12 years, it was a bit of a dissapointment that someone with the stature of Bryce could allow himself to openly cheat, yes cheat. In 1995 the All Blacks cried wolf about Suzie the waitress. Now this might be or not, what stop South Africa to cry NZ government involvement in match fixing. If Australia win Ausies will flock over the ditch. Qiuck flight, favourable spending power, economy boost assisting Christchurch. Cospiracy?Whatever the situation if Bryce did make mistakes(as one writer says more so against Aus) then if he made 10 mistakes say 7 to Aus and 3 to Sa then Sa would have most probably scored 9 points for they were camped inside Aus Territory. The only thing Aus could have been able to do was clear their lines. Still a SA win. Bryce new this therefore his reluctance to penalise. Cheat both sides and reduce the blame for cheating the bettor side. Bryce should never be allowed to ref again he stole from 48,000,000 people and is therefore a common criminal. Nor he or Paddy O Brain(less) has come forward and commented, I know their reaction would be we do not need to we did nothing wrong. Anyone who remotely believe Aus deserved to win has serious issues with reality. The game was rigged no argument and the stigma that will follow Bryce for the rest of his life is that he is a cheat and spoiled a game that officially makes World cup 2011 a huge failure.

    • Roar Guru

      October 11th 2011 @ 6:21am
      Poth Ale said | October 11th 2011 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      David – where and when exactly did Lawrence admit to making “multiple mistakes against the Wallabies in the shock 15-6 loss to Ireland, especially scrummaging, which accounted for six penalties at critical stages. “And there were other mistakes as well,” Lawrence admitted to publicly, without being specific.”

      This is an appalling admission, if true. Did he say that all his mistakes were against the Wallabies or both teams? And when did he say this to media?

      • October 11th 2011 @ 8:30am
        Sean said | October 11th 2011 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        This has been in the news for days now…

      • October 11th 2011 @ 9:56pm
        Ivan Nel said | October 11th 2011 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

        He has now said that he didnt make any mistakes in the SA – Aus game.

    • October 11th 2011 @ 6:23am
      Brad said | October 11th 2011 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      Pathetic reffing. If the IRB wants to elevate rugby on a truly global scale then there needs to be changes. Not just with the reffing but with other senior irb officials who just don’t seem to care about the game.

      As a fan of rugby nothing to say but dissapointed

    • October 11th 2011 @ 6:33am
      David Lord said | October 11th 2011 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      Morning Pot Hale, Daily Telegraph October 8 written by Iain Payten, and I’ve got the same message from my contacts in NZ. For all his faults in the middle, Bryce Lawrence is honest to himself after viewing tapes.

      • Roar Guru

        October 11th 2011 @ 7:54am
        Poth Ale said | October 11th 2011 @ 7:54am | ! Report

        David – This is what I found in the Daily Telegraph article you cite:

        “But in a crucial twist, The Daily Telegraph understands Lawrence later made admissions he had got several calls wrong at the scrum – including one that led to an Ireland penalty goal – and conceded other decisions were also inaccurate.

        IRB referees boss Paddy O’Brien declined to comment when questioned on Lawrence’s admissions last night.”

        It doesn’t have any quotations from Lawrence. Where did your directly attributed quote by Lawrence come from?

        Interestingly other reports on this issue are more specific and say that he got three of the six scrum penalties wrong. Former Australia fullback, Greg Martin appeared on Fox Sports show to claim:

        “”We had six scrum penalties (against Ireland),” Martin said.

        “The Australian management sent in a letter to Paddy O’Brien and Bryce Lawrence in a protest about what happened that night.

        “It came back and three of those scrum penalties have been admitted that, ‘sorry, we made a mistake’.

        “Bryce Lawrence has already admitted that ‘sorry I made a mistake in that game, I reviewed the tape’ – so hopefully we’ll get a better deal (against South Africa).

        “So (Lawrence) may be a bit fairer instead of pre-judging what he thinks the Wallabies are going to be like.”

        It seems a bit odd that such a specific public admission with the ref concerned who supposedly gave remarks “on the record” is only being indirectly attributed quotes by third parties.

        • October 11th 2011 @ 12:01pm
          ChrisT said | October 11th 2011 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          Exactly Pot Hale. Everything I’ve seen has been completely unsubstantiated and has come from people or organisations with a vested interest in the wallaby cause; The Telegraph, Fox Sports commentators, David Lord etc etc

          Time to stop this cheapest of ‘journalism’. Give us a direct quote and a substantiated source or stop your incesant whining. You’ve lucked your way to a semi and lucked your way to an AB team sans Carter. Get over yourselves – it’s embarrassing.

          • October 11th 2011 @ 4:42pm
            Sprigs said | October 11th 2011 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

            It’s the lucky country. It just keeps on giving.

    • October 11th 2011 @ 6:48am
      CizzyRascal said | October 11th 2011 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      You should go into referee assessing David. You seem to write more on them than anything else.

    • October 11th 2011 @ 7:12am
      Rob Perry said | October 11th 2011 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      Seriously how in the world can someone who admitted to making mistakes be allowed to referee a game of this magnitude, He has robbed SA of making history this year. Even his fellow country men are pinning his face to their dart boards, shame on you. The Springboks had to pay the Bryce for it

      • October 11th 2011 @ 9:32am
        El Gamba said | October 11th 2011 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        This is the fallacy, Bryce refereed badly against both teams. If he had blown his whistle when he should have Pocock would have had earned more turn-overs inn the middle of the field and the territory/possession would have been more even. He only blew them when he had no choice in Australia’s red-zone. This made it look like you are saying but watch the game and see how many rucks SA dove all-over and how many Pocock had rights to but were held onto by the player on the ground with no penalty.

        “Even his fellow country men are pinning his face to their dart boards” – only those that support the two teams theory (NZ and anyone playing the Wallabies) and those that desperately wanted an easier semi-final.

        • Roar Guru

          October 11th 2011 @ 11:11am
          B-Rock said | October 11th 2011 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          EG – absolutely correct – ref always disporportionately cops the blame from the losing team. Very important to note that both teams had several poor decisions go against them. As I mentioned in another post yesterday, after Brussow was injured Pocock went to town at the breakdown as he had no competition in an absolute free for all.

          Should he have held back once Lawrence let the game degenerate as he did? Of course not – Kiwis and South Africans in particular must agree that opensides are there to push the limits at the breakdown – in this case the limits were much wider than usual. If Brussow was out there he would have done the same thing.

          Rob – nothing wrong with admitting mistakes, as long as he learns from it. Unfortunately he didnt. Better than defiantly refusing to admit his errors, but saying that he should not be in charge of RWC games or any test for that matter.

          • October 11th 2011 @ 7:33pm
            Rob Perry said | October 11th 2011 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

            In my opinion B-Rock and all other Bryce supporters is that SARU and the players should make a stand against playing in any International and Super rugby match where he and other known poor Referees are chosen to Ref said match and forfit the match. I know it is a crazy notion but it would send a clear message to IRB. They didn’t think twice to ban SA all those years ago ih the dark days of Appartheid so what if they do it again. Personally SA would be better off playing Rugby amongst themselves and it would bring the players back to the reality of playing the sport, not so much about the farce of RWC and the money involved.

            My opinion and I don’t care if you agree or not.

            • October 13th 2011 @ 9:25am
              Rugby Diehard said | October 13th 2011 @ 9:25am | ! Report

              RP – :My opinion and I don’t care if you agree or not.”
              – Awesome opinions mate – you know it’s a discussion forum don’t you?

          • October 11th 2011 @ 10:02pm
            DD said | October 11th 2011 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

            The issue really is, after he had admitted to errors in the game Ireland vs Aus (which I thought was a dodgy reffing job to ensure Aus played SA before the AB’s thanks to Lawrence and the puppet master OBrien) Should he have not been stood down from a large game like Aus (again) and SA. Should his admissions not been viewed as problematic when reffing the Aus team again?

   say the least. There are so many excellent refs not in the top games like the Aus vs SA game.

            Rugby is the loser for now. Hopefully the refs do better in semis and finals.

        • October 12th 2011 @ 10:19pm
          etta 123 said | October 12th 2011 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

          You keep on saying that pocock was on his feet and had rights to the ball.You forget however that when ruck forms (3 players) he cannot touch the ball even if he is on his feet.Now go watch the game again!!!

          • October 13th 2011 @ 8:44am
            Mike said | October 13th 2011 @ 8:44am | ! Report

            That is the whole point – the ruck hadn’t formed. A ruck is not formed simply by having “3 players” as you assert. Players must be on their feet – Bokke players falling over to seal the ball does NOT form a ruck.

            If the Ref will let you stifle play by sealing (as Lawrence was happy to do on Sunday) then by all means do so, but you then have to accept the inevitable consequence, that you can be picked off by a good fetcher.

            Might be worth taking your own advice to go and watch the game again.

      • October 11th 2011 @ 10:45am
        Pillock said | October 11th 2011 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Refs will always make mistakes and unfortunately some of them are terrible.
        Give Lawrence credit for at least admitting he made errors.

        • October 11th 2011 @ 12:02pm
          ChrisT said | October 11th 2011 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

          And where exactly did he do that?

        • October 12th 2011 @ 6:58pm
          jnnel said | October 12th 2011 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

          Tell that to the millions of Springbok fans that have to wait another 4 years because of him… Very dark time for rugby.

      • October 11th 2011 @ 10:10pm
        Sandy said | October 11th 2011 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

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