TJ’s adventures in the Reds’ back garden

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    Ask most rugby folk who is the best scrum-half in the world is, and the reply that comes out of their mouths with metronomic regularity is Highlanders and All Blacks No.9 Aaron Smith. But that may be changing, if TJ Perenara’s performance in the Reds vs Hurricanes match is a reliable measure.

    Not only did TJ control the game with the excellence of his play, he was probably also the best referee on the field.

    Angus Gardner is one of the best young officials around – I have no doubt he will go on to enjoy an illustrious career at the highest level – but in this game, both he and his support crew off the field (led by TMO Damien Mitchelmore) had an evening to forget.

    There has been a lot of talk over the last week based around ‘equalisation’ – the need for Australian teams to equalise their talent levels to make the two expansion sides more productive, the need for Aussie franchises to be in a position to play their New Zealand counterparts on an equal footing – but on this occasion, the term took on an entirely different inflection.

    The officiating crew turned a blind eye to incidents which have been recently highlighted in red by World Rugby.

    Tackles above the shoulder line which can be classified as ‘reckless’, and tackling opponents in the air (typically under a high ball) now receive the same severe level of punitive action: a red or a yellow card.

    At Suncorp Stadium, the decision-making cards tended to fall out heavily in favour of the home side.

    I have to admit that I had not realised just how good a halfback Perenara has become. The Reds’ game opened my eyes to the true excellence of his play at No. 9:

    The foundation – sound passing technique
    Only one of Perenara’s 55 passes was off the mark. Like most scrum-halves from New Zealand, Perenara whips the ball away from a low position with the power of his wrists and forearms, and there is never an elaborate wind-up to increase the length of the delivery.

    In the final clip, at 6:36, the objective of the Canes’ first-phase lineout play is a simple one. They want to achieve ‘overlapping shoulders’ between their #10 (Beauden Barrett) and the Reds’ defensive #10 (Jake McIntyre) in order to create space out wide for Julian Savea.

    It is the speed and accuracy of Perenara’s delivery which takes the inside defender, George Smith, out of the game and gives Barrett that overlap when he goes to pass the ball at 6:37.

    Two passes later and the Canes have what they want – Savea receiving the ball with time and space to build up some muzzle velocity against the last defender, Karmichael Hunt.

    The add-ons – attacking the first defender
    Perenara also identifies situations where the halfback can fix the first defender and create a domino effect outside him.

    At 14:00, he sees that Sam Talakai is late into the open-side guard spot and that Rob Simmons is momentarily exposed. A couple of steps with square shoulders are all that is needed to encourage all the defenders outside Simmons (Taniela Tupou, and beyond him Samu Kerevi and Chris Kuridrani) to plant their feet.

    When Brad Shields receives the ball at 14:06, all are late folding to the outside and McIntyre is left isolated in an impossible one-on-one with Savea.

    Outstanding defensive reads
    Perhaps the single most impressive aspect of Perenara’s game is his ability to read and anticipate the play a couple of steps ahead of time, both with ball in support, and without it in defence.

    In my previous article on the England-Scotland game from the Six Nations, I observed England’s ability to exploit situations where the hooker was the first defender around the end at the lineout.

    The Hurricanes, along with other New Zealand teams, defend differently, with the halfback as the ‘tail-gunner’ and the hooker in the tram-lines.

    At 17:40, we can see what a difference this adjustment makes. Perenara rushes out aggressively at McIntyre as he throws the in-pass to Kuridrani and insert himself into the gap between passer and receiver.

    At 23:02, Perenara has already anticipated the direction of the attack by scanning the Reds’ #9, Tuttle, and Hunt angling from right to left behind the set-piece. Perenara drops off five metres to the right and rushes out all the way past McIntyre and on to Kerevi to break up the play. But for a late hit by Ngani Laumape, this would have resulted in a third try for the Canes only 23 minutes into the match.

    At 48:09, in the second period, Perenara again has McIntyre covered from the end of the lineout, then slips into the sweeping role behind the first ruck after the play goes past him. At 48:12, he is already anticipating the switch-back play with his right arm out, and Tuttle’s foot position confirms it shortly afterwards.

    At 48:21, Perenara wins this mini-battle of the 9s conclusively, getting over the top of the ball before Reds’ support arrives to win the turnover. The Kiwi No.9 has been two steps ahead all through the sequence.

    When they’re defending close to their own 22, the Hurricanes revert to a more orthodox set-up at lineout, with Perenara back in the tram-lines and the heavier forward defenders in midfield. When Kerevi makes a promising half-break and looks for inside support at 51:45, who is there to block the crucial pass to Taniela Tupou? None other than TJ Perenara.

    Cover and support work
    Perenara’s work-rate in cover defence and in support of the attacking break is prodigious.

    At 39:44, he is already reading the break by Matt Proctor and ‘tacking’ to converge on him – at 39:52 he authors a decisive clean-out on one of the Reds’ danger-man in the tackle area, Hunt.

    At 49:32 he is right at the top left-hand of the screen in defence as play moves away from him to the far sided-line, but by the time Eto Nabuli throws the errant pass inside, Perenara is there, having run 50-plus metres to dive on the ball in cover.

    Scrum-halves have been trying to referee matches with their background commentary for as long as anyone can remember, and the ability to influence refereeing perception of the situations that arise on the field has become an important factor in the professional game.

    The ongoing conversation between Gardner and Perenara was every bit as interesting as the Canes’ scrum-half’s involvement in actual play – and there was plenty of evidence to suggest that Perenara understands the laws at least as well as the ref.

    At 36:08, the contact dilemma which dominated the England-Italy game (and agitated Eddie Jones no end after it) has been repeated.

    Simmons steals the lineout ball, but as he goes to ground there are only Reds forwards involved in the ‘ruck’. All the Hurricanes are on their feet and out of contact, so as Perenara rightly calls out, there is “no ruck” and hence no offside line.

    Despite that, Gardner asks the defenders to “stay on” and observe an offside line.

    The “no ruck” disagreement was typical of the verbal fencing between Gardner and Perenara throughout the match, which led to the official reprimand at 38:54. Once again, it was the scrum-half who had the last word.

    After his ‘try’ from the tapped penalty at 55:43 (see first reel) had been ruled out by the TMO for not touching the ball with his foot, Perenara reminded Gardner that he had given the Canes a penalty advantage previously.

    It is amazing how quickly Perenara has moved on from the denied score and kept his mind fully focused on the game. Gilbert Enoka would indeed be proud of his ‘blue head’ clarity.

    If Perenara had been given the chance to review some of the TMO’s decisions (or non-decisions) during the game, I’m fairly sure he would have extracted the same kind of admission of error he received from Gardner – who, to his credit, acknowledged his mistake and took it on the chin in the 56th minute.

    Particularly odd were the incidents that the TMO ignored, and therefore, were not deemed important enough to review:

    Firstly, Nabuli’s slap-down of the pass at 7:18 is a clear yellow card and penalty-try offence, with the Canes having an unmarked three-man overlap outside Laumape. Instead, Gardner failed to award even a penalty against the Reds, while Mitchelmore upstairs completely ignored the incident on review.

    Secondly, the tackle in the air by Chris Kuridrani on Julian Savea at 36:19 is likewise a yellow-card offence, which went unpunished on the field and received no further review off it.

    Ironically, Gardner himself had explained the rules of interpretation to Rod Kafer in this video interview less than a week earlier.

    There is no realistic contest for the ball in the air, and hence by Gardner’s own interpretation, Kuridrani should have received a yellow card.

    Thirdly, the final high tackle by Izaia Perese on Matt Proctor at 62:52 qualifies under the new ‘reckless’ ruling for head-high shots (and hence at least a yellow card) – if anything does. On this occasion, Gardner gives the penalty, but there is again no further review.

    Finally, the two Reds’ tries at 28:04 and 33:52 curiously received no TMO review, even though both derived from, at best, border-line offloads by Scott Higginbotham. Perhaps these still images will help clarify the situation:

    The first offload is perhaps, marginally forward. The second is definitely one metre forward, if not more. Both deserved and demanded a proper review by the TMO.

    The issue of neutral officials will raise its head again after the Reds-Canes debacle, especially up in the TMO booth.

    As Geoff Parkes pointed out in his excellent column earlier in the week, the Japanese referee Shuhei Kubo emerged from the Blues-Force game with flying colours, so perhaps Japan can become a fertile ground for growing neutral referees.

    Queensland showed some resilience and their senior players stood up, but ultimately the closeness of the contest for the first 71 minutes owed as much to significant omissions by the officials as it did to the excellence of the Reds’ own play.

    Meanwhile, TJ Perenara ran the game. Mostly he ran it by the superb quality of his vision and skills as a player, but sometimes he ran it by the accuracy of his law interpretations.

    While the British and Irish Lions begin the debate over whether Ben Youngs or Conor Murray should be their Test halfback in New Zealand this summer, the host nation can be confident that they possess probably the two premier players in that position globally, in the shape of Perenara and Aaron Smith.

    It is truly not an equal playing field.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick?s latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled ?The Iron Curtain?. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (401)

    • April 5th 2017 @ 5:36am
      Gel said | April 5th 2017 @ 5:36am | ! Report

      Still shots should not be used for forward passes. Because: physics.

      Angus awarded the Hurricanes tries so was keen to push the game along. It was the big screen replay that gave everyone pause for thought and sparked the reviews. Kudos to him for accepting and correcting his mistakes so that the right decision was made. He was consistent.

      TJ should have shut up. He (and by extension, his team) got all the respect from the referee that Phipps and Hooper get for the same reasons.

      Referees decisions: Law: 6.A.4

      Otherwise, thoughtful article, as always.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 5:39am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 5:39am | ! Report

        The Nabuli knock-down and Kuridrani tackle in the air were obvious incidents in areas which have been highlighted for refs all over the world… Hard to see how both were not seen for what they were.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 6:07am
          Gel said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:07am | ! Report

          I agree on the Kuridrani collision. But as I said above, Angus was consistent in his behaviour all night – he was calling the game on the fly. He got some wrong, and some were picked up by the TMO (how about some of the canes forward passes and offsides when rucks were formed?).

          How about we have a repeat of the Jaguares/Reds game by comparison? Would that appeal? That was viewed by most as a piece of crap to watch – and I think Angus was trying to avoid that.

          Rugby is a game played typically over a season. There will be matches where the refereeing is favourable, and others where it is not. Over the course of the season it would be expected to balance out.

          Given the Reds history with some referring (eg Berry in SA and that cheat down in Christchurch), I think there’s inevitably going to be some matches that skew favourably towards the Reds. TJ just helped that along by doing a Phipps and Hooper and getting the referee off side.

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 7:16am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

            I would agree that the TMO was more culpable than Angus Gardner, that much is true…

            No doubt the Reds and other Australian sides have suffered the rough end refereeing deals too, but particularly at this moment in time, if rugby in the country is going to kick-start its recovery, I believe it should do so by recognising exactly where it is right now. Bite down hard on the pain.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 11:19am
              Redsfan1 said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

              Just find interesting that you choose to come down hard on the Reds after the referees they have had to put up with in NZ, SA and Argentina. There’s been plenty of homes games where the Reds have copped dodgy calls as well.

              And if you’re really honest would a referee in SA or NZ even tolerate a Reds half back carrying on like Perenara did? If the answer is no then find new material to write about.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 1:35pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                So what was it about Perenara’s behaviour exactly that you did not enjoy.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:23pm
                cuw said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                @ Redsfan1

                dont forget TJP is the stand in captain, he is entitled to query the ref irrespective of the validity or legality of decisions.

                in this case he was quite correct to query, unlike Moore who winges even for obvios fouls!!!

                at least guys like Hooper and Pocock behave better .

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:31pm
                Mapu said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                Haha loser

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 4:20pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                I’m happy to acknowledge that the Reds may also have endured the rough end of the referee in some of their away matches. It’s hard to pick up everything that goes on over the mic but it didn’t sound like TJP was really overstepping the mark – as the TV commentators noted, it sounded like a clash of personalities. It happens.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 5th 2017 @ 4:30pm
                Shane D said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

                Redsfan1 – Perenara didn’t do anything in this game that he doesn’t do every week as far as his chat is concerned so I would say that yes NZ & SA refs would tolerate him.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 7:38am
          soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

          didnt see the knock down but i agree that and the tackle in the air one usually are carded. the crusader escaped with one as well against the waratahs

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 8:00am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

            Yep, just entering that zone underneath the catcher now invites a card simply because he can’t come back down on his feet. It’s usually just mistiming but refs are told to judge by the danger caused to the man in the air, not the intent.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 1:24pm
              Cassandra said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

              Agree completely that jumpers need protection in the air, but I think the decision to penalise Dargaville (and yellow card) for the contest with Dagg in the Crusaders Brumbies game set a bad precedent. Dargaville had every right to compete for that ball. That interpretation means not only is the jumper protected, he has an inalienable right to safety irrespective of the circumstances.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 4:22pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

                That interpretation means not only is the jumper protected, he has an inalienable right to safety irrespective of the circumstances.

                That’s a fair assessment as things stand. It still isn’t quite right, but the law-makers have been spooked by the prospect of head injuries and the potential legal consequences down the line (IMO) so are erring on the side of the guy in the air atm.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 3:36pm
              cuw said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

              Bryce heem got a ban and red card for a totally unintentional tackle , simply becoz of the danger . i think it was on WLR…

        • April 5th 2017 @ 9:35am
          Unanimous said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          Well with a player distracting the ref, the ref might miss all sorts of things.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 1:32pm
          ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

          knock forward …. and there was most certainly an argument for a YC….and penalty try.

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 4:24pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

            Agreed Clarke, I believe players are coached to try and make it look like a tackle now, but in the circumstances it’s just an attempt to break up a clear scoring play by any means.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 8:32pm
              ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

              I often facetiously describe these sorts of incidents as “accidentally on purpose”.

      • April 5th 2017 @ 6:05am
        geoff said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:05am | ! Report

        That pass from Hiigers in the second shot was clearly foward, in this case the ‘physics’ are the issue.

        Passing right hand round the back like that is asking for a forward pass as he has to let it go so early in the movement for it to be backwards it’ll probably be heading almost directly behind him.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 6:14am
          Gel said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:14am | ! Report

          That’s still incorrect.

          You can throw the ball from behind your back and the ball still travel forwards if your initial speed is greater than that of the ball leaving your hands. The release was backwards out of the hand and the ball still travels forwards.

          Want proof – where’s higgers in the screenshot when Nabuli catches the ball?

          The ball was released backwards out of higgers hand. The ball still travels forwards. That’s physics.

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 6:22am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:22am | ! Report

            Regardless of the (debateable) “physics” (the ball never travelled backwards out of the hand at any time) there was still no reason for the TMO not to review both tries… That is precisely why they are there.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 6:27am
              Gel said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

              as I said above – Angus was not reviewing anything in that match. It was only after the replays were put on the big screen that reviews were called.

              He was consistent throughout the match by making decisions for himself. He corrected them afterwards when he saw error.

              trying to avoid the abortion of the Jaguares/Reds game the weeks before was admirable.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 11:16am
                Jacko said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                Oh yes he was consistant alright

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:38pm
                cuw said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                he was consistently inconstant ….

            • April 5th 2017 @ 7:32am
              soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

              as i said on the game article nic the tmo probably took a quick look them live (and likely on a replay too) and decided no further attention was warranted.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 8:03am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

                For the same man who used public replay to assess whether TJP’s foot had touched the ball in his tap & go try (a matter of millimetres), then not do the same with a debateable forward pass, seems very incongruous Soap.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 8:21am
                taylorman said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

                Yes it does, something this poster went to lengths to to avoid the obvious. Doubt was there, that is undeniable, purely because of the number who are doubting it!

                And if the TMO thought in that moment no possible doubt existed, then he isnt qualified for the job. Doubt was written all over it. Whether it would have been overturned is another thing.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:49am
                Jerry said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

                The only replay showed of the 2nd try was from in front.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 11:11am
                jemainok said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                I thought it was strange at the time the amount of scrutiny that seemed to be going into every time the Hurricanes scored, seemed so much less when the Reds scored. I put it down to hometown advantage in the end. But the behind the back pass deserved a lot more scrutiny.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 2:36pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                If only he had seen Perenara not take the penalty (clearly and obviously) from the mark he would have saved himself a lot of bother in that instance.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 7:34am
              soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

              sorry to rag on you on this nic but the fact you see the physics as debatable and warranting inverted commas a bit worrying for someone at your level.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 11:18am
                Jacko said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

                Soapit the fact you cant see a 3mtr forward pass is worrying for someone with sight

              • April 5th 2017 @ 1:38pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

                3m now is it?

                in any case im not willing to devote any effort explaining where theres ample evidence elsewhere and where i dont rate my chances of obtaining understanding,

              • April 5th 2017 @ 2:47pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                The physics thingee is relevant when considering whether or not the ball drifted nearer the defenders goal line but in determining whether or not the pass was forward, it is of no relevance.

                I really wish more people who follow rugby could separate the two concepts.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 2:55pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

                Jacko – it is not fact that the pass was 3m forward.

                What is probably more factual is that in your opinion Higginbottom passed the ball forward and that it was caught by a team mate some distance ahead of where he released it.

                The second part I think all of us with sight can agree on but I think it is the first part that is debatable.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 5:56pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

                clarke there is no separation. the physics thing is the reaosn the rule is written the way it is. its just been worded badly in an attempt to not overcomplicate things

              • April 5th 2017 @ 8:52pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

                No Soapit. I simply can’t agree there is no separation.

                There are two very different things going on here.

                Referee says to himself – at point of release did the ball go forward from the passer’s hand/s. Simple as. We punters then have only one point of debate.

                There is no need to ask himself – did the ball land, or was it caught, ahead of where it was released. It is irrelevant.

                If it was relevant then the law would need to be completely rehashed.

                But I do feel the amendment that has been made to the definition of a forward throw – (covered elsewhere with Shane D) – has created an unnecessary complication.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:01pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

                clarke you are arguing on a bit of a tangent.

                referees ask themselves about whether the ball is thrown forward. rather than whether it travelled forward. this much i think you accept.

                the reason theydo this is to take account of the principle of relative motion. if relative motion wasnt an issue they would just use lines on the ground.

                another (in a lot of ways better) way to take take account of relative motion is to check where the passer is in relation to the ball after it has left his hands. its obviously not a method that the refs use however its based on the same principle and could be argued to be a more reliable measure.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 6:59am
                Jerry said | April 6th 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report

                Soapit’s right on this one. They use the ‘forward/backward out of the hands’ test cause the physics of the momentum on the ball means you can’t use the ‘did it go forward overall’ test.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 9:20pm
                ClarkeG said | April 6th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                Yeah – I was wrong at the weekend now I’m on a tangent. No I’m not.I have been very consistent on one specific point. The only point that is relevant.

                This is what I said …”Referee says to himself – at point of release did the ball go forward from the passer’s hand/s.”

                You said…”referees ask themselves about whether the ball is thrown forward…”

                That’s what I said. Releasing the ball is throwing the ball.

                There is no need to account for anything else.

              • Columnist

                April 6th 2017 @ 9:39pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 6th 2017 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

                Thanks for bringing some ‘holy simplicity’ back tot he convo Clarke!

              • April 7th 2017 @ 1:26pm
                soapit said | April 7th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                clarke . if you still believes that physics has no relevence to the rule then theres not way i can say ur anything but wrong. talking about the specifics of how refs take into account the physics is a tangent.

                the facts are above and you can do with them as you please.

              • April 10th 2017 @ 7:15pm
                ClarkeG said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

                If only I had a clue what you are on about Soap I would give myself a pat on the back. I feel I would have earned it.

                I’m not sure you have provided any facts – not relevant ones at least. You are the one that has gone off in a tangent and I might add I’m not the person that involved himself in a discussion re air resistance, wind, gravity, forces, horizontal motion, forward speed and goodness knows what else.

                I have not spoken about specifics of referees taking physics into account – you’ve done that – so how am I on a tangent. Why would I need to do that. My point is not about that.

                I wish you would not say that I have said things when I have not and also I wish you would not say that I am wrong and then carry on to say the same thing using different words.

                You to can do with that what you please.

                But the scary thing about this is that I think we both know what constitutes a forward pass.

                I wonder if potential referees have to reveal their school physics exam results when submitting their applications to train as referees.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 2:26pm
              ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

              The TMO process is there to assist the referee as are the Asst Refs (touch judges) and sideline officials.

              It is not the TMO’s job to initiate reviews of every pass that leads to a try unless they see an obvious clear cut error. An example of a clear cut refereeing error was the Asst Ref not seeing Abbott step on the touch line when he scored his try.

              If there is no reason not to review both tries you have referred to here then there would be no reason not to review the final pass in Higginbottom’s try and no reason not to review Barrett’s (J) pass to Shields (for Savea’s try) and while we are at it why not review Shields’ pass to Savea.

              And then while we are at it why not review a bunch of other passes from that game alone.

              I can think of one good reason why the TMO was not needed in either of the tries. The Asst Refs were in good position to make a judgement – did at the point of release the ball go forward from the passer’s hand/s.

              The Asst is definitely in good position in the Higginbottom pass leading to his try and probably so in the Kuridrani try.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 4:30pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

                I’d agree that the TMO should prob operate on the ref’s request Clarke – the fact is that even at international level, there are several that do initiate independent ‘enquiries’ of their own!

                It takes a strong ref to disregard the evidence they present once it is shown on the big screen…

                The process for the denied Beauden Barrett try was also interesting from this point of view. At first the review was solely based on the grounding, only right at the end did it veer off to catch Laumape’s late tackle.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:12pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

                I do have to say Nicholas that this whole TMO process has reached the point for me where it is draining my enjoyment of the game. It often reaches farcical levels.

                It has all got out of hand.

                I do have one friend however. Nigel Owens, like me, is of the view that the TMO’s input should be scaled back.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:15pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

                I like NO’s firmness with the TMO Clarke. He doesn’t allow himself to be bulldozed (some have tried) and goes by what he sees.

                Sadly with safety and legal issues paramount in the minds of the lawmakers I cannot see this kind of influence diminishing any time soon 🙁

          • Roar Rookie

            April 5th 2017 @ 8:15am
            Shane D said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

            Gel, physics has nothing to do with it. I am constantly amazed by people who over think the forward throw law.
            The law is simple.

            A throw forward occurs when a player throws or passes the ball forward, i.e, if the arms of the player passing the ball move towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.

            • Columnist

              April 5th 2017 @ 8:20am
              Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

              That’s the way I tend to look at it too Shane – keep it as simple as possible for the ref. There are plenty of over-complicated areas in rugby law as it is!

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:08am
                Gel said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

                Haha. Youre correct that it’s simple, but incorrect in the outcome.

                If the player is moving faster than the ball does after it leaves his hands, then the ball has been thrown away from the opposition try line. There’s no magical force or motion in play to make it happen otherwise.

                Your own photo shows it. The live motion shows it.

                The real problem here is that it actually DOES relate solely to physics, and simply saying it doesn’t, or putting it quotations and referring to it as debatable does not change fact.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:20am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

                Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree,

                Look at the first photo at 33:51 carefully. The ball is behind Higginbotham and his hand is placed on the rear end of it. There is no way he can physically propel the ball backwards out of the hand from that position – don’t believe me, try it yourself!

                So the ball naturally goes forward out of the hand. Okay?

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:47am
                Gel said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                There is no agreeing to disagree here. It can be thrown back from that position. Higgers did just that.

                If you wish to look at the screenshots as a basis, then use both screenshots to determine speed.

                Higgers has travelled further forward than the ball over the same time interval. his speed wad greater than the ball. therefore the ball had to be propelled backwards relative to him.

                What is the name of the force that propels the ball forwards such that it travels backwards relative to the initial frame of reference? That is what you are suggesting.

                That’s the facts based on the evidence presented.

                I won’t continue this as it’s detrimental to the other discussions.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 10:12am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                Let’s just say that there are many refs across the world who would have called the pass forward, whether they understand the laws of physics as you have explained them, or not. And the vast majority would have checked with the TMO to verify any decision they made on the play, which was the original point that has somehow gotten lost in the maze!

              • Roar Guru

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:29am
                Carlos the Argie said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

                Gee, Nick! I am shocked!

                How come suddenly you don’t know what you are talking about?

                And then I wonder why I rarely post nowadays.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:39am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

                You’ll just to take the rough with the smooth Carlos… Ultimately, the ball did travel forward, however it got there 🙂

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:33am
                Paul said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

                That’s the problem with using still photos to determine forward passes though Nick. If that’s how his hand was when he started to impart momentum on the ball then he can only propel it forward (as difficult as that would be with your arm contorted behind you), but he is all but done by the time you get to that shot. His arm has gone from beside him to back behind him.

                It’s lineball sure, and probably warranted a review. But it’s not forward by any means.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 10:42am
                Jerry said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

                That’s simplistic in the extreme, Gel. The ball loses momentum due to air resistance and gravity, so if it’s propelled forward minimally the player can easily stay in front of it.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 1:43pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                i cant see air resistance making much difference without wind jerry and gravity doesnt matter at all. really its just whether h bum speeds up after he passes which in this case i think there was time for him to have done potentially. but still a close one.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:18pm
                Jerry said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

                Gravity affects it cause it takes over as the initial momentum of the ball is dispersed. So any backwards or forwards momentum will be less at the end.

                Air resistance is undoubtedly a factor, it’s one of the reasons for spiral passes – they disturb the air less. And he didn’t spiral it.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:27pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                Nicholas – seriously? Your still frame does not even prove he still has his hand on the ball.

                Does a cushion count? Using the same action as Higginbottom (let’s say similar) I have just thrown the cushion behind me. It landed behind me on the chair.

                I don’t have any still frames as evidence however. (or moving pictures).

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:33pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

                Jerry – if Gel’s point is simplistic in the extreme then so is looking at two still frames to determine whether or not a ball went forward from hand at the point of release.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:43pm
                cuw said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                @ Nicholas Bishop

                it seems GEL is glued to the physics and not to the Law that says the forward pass is when the players hands throw / pass the ball in a forward motion.

                the first criterion is the hands, then come physics and everything under the sun 😀

              • April 5th 2017 @ 3:57pm
                Paul said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                Jerry, Gravity and air resistance will not affect the direction it travels. Air resistance will slow the ball, not change it’s path. And Gravity only imparts motion directly to earth and has no impact on lateral movement. The ball will still travel the direction it is propelled whether they are present or not.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 4:11pm
                Paul said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

                Note also, air resistance is almost negligible in the scheme of things at such low speeds / short distances.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 5:58pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 5:58pm | ! Report

                like paul said jerry, gravity only moves things down. it has no effect in any other direction.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 6:08pm
                Jerry said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

                I never said it would change it’s path, gravity and air resistance are relevant in terms of a player staying in front of the ball. A player imparts momentum on the ball when he passes it and that’s the only force making the ball move sideways, backwards or forwards. If he only imparts a tiny amount of forward momentum on the ball (in addition to the forward momentum from the passer travelling forward) air resistance and gravity will slow that momentum down somewhat. The passer on the other hand is still having force imparted due his running.

                Try it yourself with a handball or wadded up paper, it’s actually fairly easy to throw something slightly forward but remain/get in front of it.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 6:48pm
                Paul said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

                Gravity has zero effect and air resistance is negligible. The only way for higgenbotham to advance further down the field than the ball is either there was a negative component to the kinetic energy imparted on the ball (passed backwards), or higgenbotham accelerates.

                You can make your own judgement on how much he accelerates if at all.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 6:27pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

                jerry motion/momentum can only be affected in the direction that the force is exerted. given that gravity goes straight down and has no portion of its force acting horizontally it can not have any affect on horizontal motion or momentum. if it changes horizontal motion it must be from some other force with a horizontal component being exerted.

                air resistance is possible as it would have a horizontal component but i doubt it would be significant especially as the forward speed of the ball is very low).

                doesnt mean you cant move in front of something you throw forward and i do acknowledge the checking the persons position when the ball is caught method is not 100% perfect and precise.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 7:01am
                Jerry said | April 6th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

                Soapit – as the momentum of the ball lessens, gravity has more of an effect on it is my point. Of course it doesn’t change direction, but it goes forward less at the end and down more.

                So on a pass, as the initial force on the ball lessens and gravity has more of an effect the player will be going forward faster than the ball.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 8:32am
                Paul said | April 6th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

                “So on a pass, as the initial force on the ball lessens and gravity has more of an effect the player will be going forward faster than the ball.”

                Again, No. The only way gravity prevents lateral motion is if the ball hits the ground. The ball slows due to a loss of lateral momentum, not gravity.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 10:39am
                Jerry said | April 6th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

                You throw a ball in the air sideways. It’s got momentum, it’s being affected by gravity and air resistance. As the momentum wears off (although it doesn’t completely wear off on a pass, I know) and air resistance slows it gravity has more of an affect relative to momentum. So it goes less forward and more down and loses speed – unlike the runner. Now, I’ll happily admit the margins of losing momentum aren’t all that much, but they are enough to have a visual effect, I suspect.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 11:01am
                Jerry said | April 6th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

                “So it goes less forward and more down and loses speed”

                That wasn’t really clearer at all – I’m not saying gravity causes it to lose speed.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 6:38pm
                soapit said | April 6th 2017 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

                ah jerry i think i have you now. potential slight difference yes but as i said i cant see momentum changing enough for it to really matter much except perhaps in decent winds.

              • April 7th 2017 @ 11:46am
                Jerry said | April 7th 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report

                I dunno, I think air resistance would be a factor. It’s the reason spiral passes are more accurate after all, so presumably there’s enough of it to affect the ball’s trajectory.

              • April 7th 2017 @ 1:30pm
                soapit said | April 7th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

                difficult to quanitfy obviously (at least for me). it would be more pronounced the faster they were running forward in the first place. in the stills the ball is behind h bum when caught by a reasonable amount. not sure it would make that much difference over that distance to make its resistance free destination in front of him instead.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 5th 2017 @ 9:40am
              Shane D said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

              Gel, the motion of the arms is what determines forward throw. Where the ball ends up isn’t part of the law.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 1:48pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

                shane its written that way as a dumbed down way to take account of the physics thats been explained. its not reffed so literally. if it were offloads where they reach forward would be pulled up as the arms move forward but the hands tip the ball back,

              • Roar Rookie

                April 5th 2017 @ 4:14pm
                Shane D said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

                Soap, not they wouldn’t because the movement of the hands is backwards to release the ball.
                You really think that any rugby law is ‘dumbed down’?

              • April 5th 2017 @ 4:27pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

                But where the ball ends up is the basis for Nicholas’ view that the passes should have been reviewed thus the need to produce still frames to support his view.

                But on this motion of the arms thingee….if we take that and that alone then neither of these passes referred to in this article can be deemed to be forward simply because the motion of the arms is not towards the opponents goal line.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 6:07pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

                thats not what the rule says shane. the rule specifically says arms.

                it definitely is dumbed down or at least attempted to be simplified. with good reason id say.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 3:13pm
              ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

              You’re right – people do over think it but he did say the physics is relevant when you consider the drift of the ball. In that respect he is right.

              And talking of overthinking – that bit …”if the arms of the player passing the ball move towards the opposing team’s dead ball line”….

              I take it that is from the law book (a recent addition I think) but that is just an unnecessary complication in my opinion.

              The only thing that is relevant is when the ball is released – at this point did it go forward of the hand/s. If no …….. play on.

              Why many of us need to constantly complicate the issue with other stuff (including still frames) is baffling.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 5th 2017 @ 4:15pm
                Shane D said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

                Clarke, its the definition of a forward throw from the law book that has been there for at least 30 years.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 8:23pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

                Shane – I had reason to go back to the ‘throw forward’ law a few days ago. When I read the definition my immediate thought was…hmmm that’s not how I remember it.

                Hence my response that I thought what you wrote was a recent addition to the law book.

                It is as recent as Sept 2016 – when it came into effect.

                So in fact this specific definition has barely been in the law book 8 months let alone the past 30 years.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 5th 2017 @ 10:07pm
                Shane D said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:07pm | ! Report

                Apologies Clarke you are correct. The change I believe was bought in to clarify the law once passed that were not forward from the hands / arm were being called as forward after reviews

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:02pm
                soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

                thats interesting clarke, what did it say before then? am i remembering it was simply “forward from the hands” or something like that

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:57pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

                The definition is now: – “A throw forward occurs when a player throws or passes the ball forward, i.e. if the arms of the player passing the ball move towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.”

                Up until Sept 2016 the definition was: – “A throw forward occurs when a player throws or passes the ball forward, i.e. Forward means towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.

                The diff being that the previous one says nothing about arms moving towards.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 10:44pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:44pm | ! Report

                Thanks for that clarification Clarke.

              • April 6th 2017 @ 6:42am
                soapit said | April 6th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report


            • April 5th 2017 @ 3:34pm
              Mapu said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

              Pretty simple eh

            • April 6th 2017 @ 5:18am
              Kitch said | April 6th 2017 @ 5:18am | ! Report

              To suggest just bc he’s passed from behind the back, therefore it can’t be forward is rediculous and shows a level of ignorance which suggests you’ve never passed a ball behind your back in your life! ..try even just putting the palm of your hand on your lower back!!…note you have to actually bend your arm in a forward motion…this would by itself suggest the possibility of the ball being released out of the HAND forward!! Now try turning sideways (as higs does clearly in the still shot) and the possibility of both arm going forward and hand releasing forward increases dramatically!! In fact in another game this weekend a similar thing happened!!…I think highlanders or chiefs did a ‘behind the back’ pass on the goal line and scored but was ruled no try bc it was forward!

              You’re absolutely right Nic!

          • April 5th 2017 @ 9:38am
            geoff said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report


            He held the ball for too long and threw it (with the angle of his arm coming round behind) clearly forward.

            The still shot isn’t a factor in my assessment, the video was.

            Its clearly forward and there’s no doubt about it

          • April 5th 2017 @ 3:33pm
            Mapu said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

            Forward pass and should of been called back.

        • Columnist

          April 5th 2017 @ 6:19am
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:19am | ! Report

          Good point Geoff.

      • April 5th 2017 @ 9:45am
        Jibba Jabba said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Yeah Gelly lets all just accept your low standards…

        • April 5th 2017 @ 11:18am
          Akari said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          True JJ as I too was struggling to see it the way Gel was. I was surprised that Angus failed to review the Kuridrani ‘tackle’ and the Nabuli tap down. It is troubling that the TMO and the ARs failed to draw both matter to the ref’s attention for review at least. This is why I agree with Nic that Angus was inconsistent by his own high standards in applying the laws as they would apply in both instances. Nevertheless, Angus is still IMO the best super ref this year and I do enjoy watching and appreciating rugby games with him in charge.

          Did he AR responsible or the one closest with a clear view of both incidents fail to speak up? What is the use of the AR if they don’t know or refuse to apply the laws of the game? In any case, the TMO had access to reviewing both incidents and just didn’t do so while eager to review and disallow 3 ‘tries’ that the Canes thought they scored. The disallowed tries were correctly ruled of course.

          • April 5th 2017 @ 3:46pm
            cuw said | April 5th 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

            ” Nevertheless, Angus is still IMO the best super ref this year and I do enjoy watching and appreciating rugby games with him in charge. ”

            no imho , both the jap ref and Rastaman are much better this year, but then u see them only once in a blue moon.

            maybe they can have a ref exchange program and get JP Doyle and Mathew Raynol over to super rugger…

            • April 5th 2017 @ 10:19pm
              ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

              And what about Mr Doyle’s forward pass clanger in Munster v Toulouse.

            • April 6th 2017 @ 1:16pm
              Akari said | April 6th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

              I thought Shuhei Kubo missed the persistent off-sides and was not helped by the ARs for not monitoring the off-sides.

              Rasta Rasivhenge IMO is a work-in-progress at super rugby level while very good in 7s rugby.

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 4:35pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

            In any case, the TMO had access to reviewing both incidents and just didn’t do so while eager to review and disallow 3 ‘tries’ that the Canes thought they scored. The disallowed tries were correctly ruled of course.

            In a nutshell Ak. The disallowed Canes tries were quite right, but there were sins of omission that went the other way.

          • April 5th 2017 @ 10:02pm
            ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

            Did it occur to you at all that the Asst Refs in fact had the best view of the passes and come to the conclusion they were both ok.

            • April 6th 2017 @ 10:52am
              Jibba Jabba said | April 6th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

              Yeah cos they have proved themselves as really accurate, unbiarssed and reliable…

      • April 5th 2017 @ 11:05am
        ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        “Still shots should not be used for forward passes” you said.

        Agree and furthermore I feel judgment of forward passes should be removed from the TMO process all together.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 1:49pm
          soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          i agree clarke. tmo should generally be only for clear and obvious rulings and forward passes arent 99% of the time.

          • April 5th 2017 @ 10:32pm
            ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

            When it was first brought into the game we were told it would be to correct clear cut errors but I’m afraid we have long since gone way past that point.

            • Columnist

              April 5th 2017 @ 10:46pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

              Yep it’s just created more confusion as what constitutes a forward pass – as this thread has amply demonstrated!

              • April 5th 2017 @ 11:15pm
                ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

                Yes and we will be having a similar discussion in June when either the ABs or Lions scores a try – or has one disallowed – in similar circumstances.

                And we will have people in this forum talking physics, gravity, air resistance etc.etc.

      • April 5th 2017 @ 4:19pm
        Timbo (L) said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

        Agree with the Stills Shots comment.

        [More Physics] A forward pass is judged on a moving frame of reference – the player.

        A legal pass can go forward relative to the lines field, provided the player is moving forward an the ball goes behind the player. It can appear a bit ambiguous when the player has been stopped dead straight after the pass – An offload.

        • Columnist

          April 5th 2017 @ 4:36pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

          Thanks for all the great contributions to this part of the convo – I think you may be persuading me Clarke!

          • April 5th 2017 @ 10:57pm
            ClarkeG said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

            I’m not going to claim credit for anything Timbo has to say but I do claim credit for the throw of the cushion experiment bothomhiggen style. 🙂

            I was very careful not to have my hand/s or arm/s moving towards the tv set. 🙂

            • Columnist

              April 5th 2017 @ 11:25pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

              Careful not to break the plane of the end zone there Clarke!

    • April 5th 2017 @ 5:46am
      Nick Cross said | April 5th 2017 @ 5:46am | ! Report

      Great article

      TJ is really putting himself forward and is the incumbent currently so must have inside running for abs

      Combo with BB also fantastic

      Felt ref did miss a few things but personally prefer less ycs

      its laudable to try and reduce risk to players heads but I don’t thing more yellow cards does that – the only protection they give to players is to the player sitting on the sideline for 10. It’s a contact sport and risk is involved.


      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 6:01am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:01am | ! Report

        Thanks Nick…

        Perhaps all of these incidents might have appeared a lot more serious if the Canes had lost the game, as it was they won quite comfortably so the inflammation disappeared.

        But the refereeing protocols around head-high tackles and upsetting players in the air with no chance of catching the ball are now very, very clear and current. Similar incident with red card for Elliott Daley here

        • April 5th 2017 @ 6:04am
          Nick Cross said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:04am | ! Report

          Agree they missed stuff

          My issue is with the idea that making players sit down for 10 minutes = less high shots and that less high shots = less risk of injury

          Are there data to support either of those concepts?

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 6:25am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:25am | ! Report

            That’s a good point in a wider context Nick.

            I suspect the recent long-term effects of head traumas in contact sports like American Football have had a strong hand in the decision to try and change players’ behaviour through cards. The huge lawsuit pushed by ex-NFL players’ families has had a massive ripple effect on Rugby Union.

          • April 5th 2017 @ 11:26am
            Jacko said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            The theory is that if you enforce the law constantly then the players will eventually be sick of getting penalised so will stop doing the illegal act. Its basically the same for every rule as if they didn’t rule on knock-ons then everybody would knock on without worrying about it

    • April 5th 2017 @ 6:34am
      Rhys Bosley said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      Meh, the Reds had their game in Argentina the week before ruined by abominable calls by a “neutral” Kiwi ref, perhaps Angus just thought it was time they got an even up. Or perhaps he just felt sorry for them having to play the Hurricanes. Not that it mattered in the end, but it is interesting to note as usual that it is Australian commentators diving in to devour their own. We don’t really get the “will do anything on or off the field” national effort to win like the Kiwis and South Africans do, do we.

      I agree that Perenara is awesome though, he has such a quick read on opportunities like that intercept or the Hodge charge down in one of the Bledisloe tests last year. I thought he should have been made the All Black’s first pick after the toilet loiterer did his worst, his form certainly justifies it and it would send a firm message that the “no dickheads” policy isn’t slipping at the All Blacks.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 7:21am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        Even as a neutral, I probably had hopes as high as yours that the Reds would succeed in their current campaign Rhys. They may still do just that in the remainder of the season.

        However atm things need to be seen as they truly are, with no smoke and mirrors in any form. Whether they decide to cut an Aussie franchise or stick with what they’ve got, at least stand in front of the reality of the situation n don’t look away.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 8:40am
          Rhys Bosley said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          Not sure what that has to do with my post, but anyway.

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 8:44am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

            If Australian rugby wants to make the right decision about the future of their SR rugby sides, best to do it without any sugar-coating. Well as they played in parts, if the Reds had beaten the Canes it might have done just that and skewed perception.

            • April 5th 2017 @ 8:54am
              Rhys Bosley said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

              Oh please, do you really think that we are going to get skewed perceptions over one result? And do you not think that all those times when the ref has affected the outcome against our teams, especially in South Africa, that perceptions might have been skewed in the other direction? You are too tied up in all this Super Rugby political nonsense and are jumping at shadows.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:12am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

                You are too tied up in all this Super Rugby political nonsense and are jumping at shadows.

                I get the impression you’re reactive and wanting to challenge the person rather than the argument Rhys, so maybe you should apply your formula to yourself first.

                In a critical situation, of course people will jump on any bit of encouragement (or otherwise) that they can to support their case. One of the constant threads over the past few weeks is the feeling that ‘she’ll come right’ and that somehow, sometime five teams will work out. There is no evidence for that happening that I can see, but a Reds’ win would probably have strengthened that feeling in any case.

              • Roar Guru

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:31am
                Carlos the Argie said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

                “T’was the referee! That’s why we lose all the time!”

                Yeah, right.

                Make Australian rugby great again. Some parable.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:48am
                Jibba Jabba said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

                Heh Nicholas, keep it up, obviously the no d. heads policy does not apply to RB

              • April 5th 2017 @ 9:49am
                Rhys Bosley said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

                Nick, you have tried to turn a comment by me that wasn’t even about the current Super Rugby schemozzle into one. I call that a bit obsessive and don’t propose to continue the discussion.

              • Roar Guru

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:51am
                Fionn said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                Not even 15-20 years ago we were dominant in the cricket, in our golden era of rugby, coming 3rd (I think?) in the Olympics, on the up in soccer, had top tennis players and were doing well in swimming, bike riding and athletics.

                Australian sport has gone a long way backwards, participation numbers are down (there is an ad on TV now about how apparently the Brits swim more than we do!), viewing figures are down, sport is less present in society and culture, and our position all those above sports have declined (with the help of a brilliant foreign coach!).

                It’s a hard position to stomach from an Aussie perspective.. Especially since I think Australia has always tried to make up for our relatively much-less-developed culture (as a new immigrant country) than Europe, the US, Asia, etc with our sporting successes. We’re in the period of denial and anger.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 10:21am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

                Very observant Fionn.

                I grew up in an era when Australian sportsmen in every arena were revered and almost god-like in status- the Rod Lavers in tennis, the Dennis Lillees in cricket, the Peter Sterlings in League etc…

                So it’s been a tough exercise for me to try and write articles recently with the crisis affecting Rugby Union and that formative influence in the background.

              • April 5th 2017 @ 10:08am
                Rhys Bosley said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

                I take it all back Nick, JJ the Kiwi has joined your cheers squad and we all know that they only have the best interests of Aussie rugby at heart.

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 10:17am
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

                Is he a regular sparring partner of yours then Rhys? 🙂

              • April 5th 2017 @ 11:00am
                Rhys Bosley said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

                He tries to be but I mostly ignore him.

              • Roar Guru

                April 5th 2017 @ 2:06pm
                Fionn said | April 5th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                Well, Nick, all I can say is that I’m glad you’re doing so. Your articles are invariably some of the top content on this extremely good sports journalism site.

                I got back into rugby too late to catch much of Scott Allen’s writing, but from what I have read, both his and your articles teach me more about the game, make me challenge my assumptions and beliefs and are generally exceedingly interesting to read.

        • Roar Guru

          April 5th 2017 @ 11:08am
          RobC said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          Nick, in Checks maiden season the Tahs lost 6 out of their first 8 games

          Stiles doesn’t have Checks coaching experience, so I think its key to set realistic expectations for the Reds

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 4:38pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

            Hi Rob, with the Reds’ talent base and senior players, I would be disappointed if they didn’t finish above 50% this season, and head up the Aussie conference. After all they did make a massive contribution to an excellent game of rugby, and provided the first serious test of the year for the Canes.

            • Roar Guru

              April 5th 2017 @ 9:25pm
              RobC said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

              Nick imo:
              – The issue is with the attack Nick
              – Pack is mandated to skill up.
              – I suspect this is where they will fail before they succeed.
              – The backs lack a couple of things to be really good.

              The combinations haven’t settled in. Nor the reserve selections

              So whilst the Reds want to win. They won’t have a repeatable match model

              Thankfully their game plan is simple, so the transition should be easier to execute
              If they continue as planned they will be great to watch

              • Columnist

                April 5th 2017 @ 9:36pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

                In particular they’ve had no continuity in the halves, and IMO the sooner they settle on Tupou as their first choice T/H, the better.

      • April 5th 2017 @ 11:38am
        mzilikazi said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        And that is how it should be…the player has, IMO, and obligation to not run in under a player who has gone high to field a ball…..and in this case it was a “dumb” piece of play….Kuridrani could so easily have let Savea land and immediately tackled him….and possibly tthe Reds could have got a turnover or penalty.

    • April 5th 2017 @ 6:37am
      Daveski said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      Maybe just maybe Nick your analysis highlights how dumb the laws are in their current definition. If Nabuli ( smother tackle with his long arms ) or Perese ( for what was little more than a draping of the arm – the second man in was the one who knocked Proctor to ground ) had received yellow cards for those I’d have been pretty miffed.

      Kuridrani was clearly accidental and seemed he was trying to get out of the way when he realized he had over run it but was still poor perception by him and I can probably give you that one.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 7:26am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

        Maybe the laws are dumb, but the coaches would have made all their players aware of the way they would be interpreted and what the refereeing protocols are currently.

        I’ve seen numerous examples of the last defender being yellow-carded for cynical knockdowns this season… another similar one here

        • April 5th 2017 @ 7:36am
          soapit said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:36am | ! Report

          there plenty of example of high tackles that havent been carded to the new standard as well nic.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 7:35am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        Daveski, I agree that the Kuridrani one was totally accidental, but of course we know that this is no mitigation.
        The chaser has to either get there early and jump and compete for the catch, or else stay out of the catching zone, concede the catch and wait to tackle the catcher when he lands. There’s no middle ground where the chaser and catcher can feel safe.

        What I think happened is that 1) because Savea played on straight away uninjured, and 2) play continued for a very long period, back and forth with other advantages called, the officials just forgot about it, and so didn’t go back to review the incident.

        No excuse of course, as Nick says, the guidelines are clear and this has been a prominent area of focus. I’d imagine that they all got a telling off in their review.

        • Columnist

          April 5th 2017 @ 8:06am
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          Savea saved Kuridrani’s bacon on that one Geoff….

          He could easily have made a meal of it (as several players in Europe have done recently) to milk the card, but he did precisely the opposite. As you say, this may have persuaded both the ref and TMO to forget about the incident and let it pass.

          • April 5th 2017 @ 8:22am
            taylorman said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

            Cmon Nic, kiwis dont ‘milk’… 🙂

            • Columnist

              April 5th 2017 @ 8:25am
              Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

              Ahh… I see what you’re getting at T-man, nice one!

        • April 5th 2017 @ 8:45am
          Daveski said | April 5th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          Fair enough ! And Geoff is right, play went on for a while and it would have been a travesty to go back and review an accident where the player still landed on his feet. But under the laws, Gardner should have reviewed it and the result would have been 2-3minutes of wasted time as players and crowd get restless and the Reds a man down. Hence my use of the word “dumb”.

          There’s the rulebook angle to this and obviously a player safety one. There’s also an entertainment angle to it. Even the NFL don’t have it right with games going too long and regular and often long stoppages for reviews/challenges/on-field explanations.

          I agree credit to Savea. I love the Argie wingers but I can imagine any of them crumpling into a painfully hurt heap if they’d been Savea ( apologies No Brain but it’s true).

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 4:41pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

            Yeah one of the recent additions in the NFL is ‘coach challenges’. They get to throw their little red flags three times in a game if they think a call is wrong – at the cost of a time-out if they fail!

    • April 5th 2017 @ 6:40am
      RedandBlack said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      I accept your analysis of the reffing – along with your assessment of Gardner as a very good up and coming ref. I have always wanted neutral ref’s – not because home ref’s are biased but because they are more naturally more comfortable with the home teams style and patterns of play as that’s what they’ve seen all their lives. Players from other countries with different rhythms and interpretations are far more likely to be closely examined as strange things always are – human nature. This is particularly apparent with SA ref’s – think Jonker and Berry. That being said if the incidents are involving the new definition of foul play/head high there is no excuse. The officiating team must get it right. Not that I am a safety Nazi but it is the nature of rugby players to try to get away with things if they think they have half a chance. These new interpretations are pretty draconian so we just don’t want them going near it – period. That means consistency and firmness. The last thing I want to see is a final or big test blighted by yellow and red cards.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 7:29am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

        I rate Gardner highly R & B, so this performance seems out of character.

        I don’t think the punishment for the tackling in the air feels quite right, but nonetheless the refs committee has decided to view it as a serious safety issue, so all kick chasers have to be coached to be aware of that fact.

        • April 5th 2017 @ 11:33am
          Akari said | April 5th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          When Angus is the ref, I always look forward to a good game of rugby and I am never disappointed. Angus may have had an off day and it doesn’t help with a pesky TJ whining at anything and everything even if he was talking to his own players.

          TJ is certainly the form and best HB in super rugby this year.

          • Columnist

            April 5th 2017 @ 4:43pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

            …it doesn’t help with a pesky TJ whining at anything and everything even if he was talking to his own players.

            How many other names of half-backs can you substitute for “TJ” there Ak?

            • April 6th 2017 @ 1:18pm
              Akari said | April 6th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              Come to think of it, zero comes to mind.

    • April 5th 2017 @ 6:41am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | April 5th 2017 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      Nicholas, I am on record asking for ‘equalisation’ of officials and officiating for some time. Officials in the SANZA nation’s Super games indulge in regular ‘de-equalisation’.
      No one could argue that Perenara is not a world class halfback. His status as a referee however is yet to be confirmed mainly because he isnt one, Not at Super level at least. His call on Douglas falling onto a loose ball when the Reds were in close range was quite inaccurate. Gardner went along with him. Penalty to Canes. TJ may have made other errors – (like screaming at Angus all game)
      You have applied here your standard thoroughness and detail to the refereeing of a game in Australia, refereed by an OZ ref and TMO. And you have asked some very good questions- Questions that will no doubt stir a sqadron of hornets dressed in black to fly westward today with vicious intent.
      So thanks for that.

      Not for the first time i will say that the unequal refereeing of games is wrecking the SR competition more than any other factor – like the number of games (teams).
      Lopsided officiating is now modus operandi in SR.
      In the interest of journalistic ‘equalisation’ however, I look forward to the Roar publishing an article on specific games in NZ where thousands of AR’s in the stands are known to ‘help’ with the refereeing (accurately and otherwise) and SA where officials are even known to add new laws to the Laws of Rugby’ mid-game.

      Another good article, Nicholas, though I dont expect that the response will be pretty.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2017 @ 7:33am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 5th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

        Hi Ken.

        Yes I’d agree that neutral refs would be ideal, and it’s encouraging that Japanese and Argentine officials are beginning to make inroads on that front – long may it continue!

        I also agree that refs have to endure a lot of over-the-top screaming and questioning and background commentary from players nowadays – maybe an argument for more on-field officials? In American Football the ‘zebras’ seem to give as good as they get from the players!

        Hopefully a balance will be found in due course.

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