It’s time for rugby to stamp out backchat

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    The Chiefs and Hurricanes game on Friday night was a cracker, as was the Lions and Crusaders match its own way – but unfortunately both were marred by continuous backchat to the refs.

    On Friday night TJ Perenara was the chief offender. He frequently disagreed with the referee and in petulant terms. Every time Perenara thought a decision had gone against his team, he argued with the referee. What’s worse, his body language was confrontational and disrespectful.

    In the second half, he took a dive when he and an opponent were running for the ball. The opponent had not done anything to deserve a penalty, yet Perenara exaggerated his fall and rose with his arms outspread, yelling at the referee for a penalty.

    In the Lions match, the referee went to the television match official to check suspected foul play by the Lions. A Lions player was heard clearly to say to the referee, “You only go to the TMO against us, not against them”. If that is not an allegation of cheating, I do not know what is.

    Arguing with the referee, contradicting him, taking dives, calling for unwarranted penalties and alleging bias is against the spirit of the game. If you wish to do those sorts of things, there are other football codes which would seem to allow it. Rugby never did that, nor should it now.

    The simple answer is to require the referees to enforce the law. I am an avid rugby watcher, and not once in the last two seasons have I seen a penalty for backchat, turning a free kick into a penalty kick or marching ten metres.

    You will recall that four years ago Wayne Barnes sent Dylan Hartley off in a premiership final for calling Barnes a cheat. Rightly so.

    I do not necessarily blame Perenara or the Lions player. If they can get away with it, why stop? It is appallingly dumb rugby to aggravate a ref, but if that’s their mentality, so be it.

    I blame the referees and the referee coaches and assessors for allowing this state of affairs to exist in our game. If it were not tolerated, you could imagine what steps coaches would take to ensure that their players did not indulge in it.

    A proper application of the laws would eradicate this problem within three weeks.

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • June 14th 2017 @ 11:27am
      ClarkeG said | June 14th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

      It is an escalating problem.

      Starting point to fix it…instruct the referees not to engage in debates with players.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2017 @ 12:30pm
        Wally James said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

        I think that is very much part of it, ClarkeG.

        The refs are appearing under siege throughout the match from players disputing their calls. The natural inclination is to justify yourself. Refs should never fall into that trap. Make the decision, don’t debate it and move on.

        Anything that is dissent should be penalised. There is no need for debate.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 12:51pm
        Highlander said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        Totally agree, remember being pinged at ruck time in one of my first open level games, back-chatted the ref and he didn’t even acknowledge me, just marched the penalty 10 yards up the park.
        Captain slapped me round the head as we ran back.
        Didn’t do that again.

        • June 15th 2017 @ 9:05am
          Jemain Okinga said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          Wally I have to admit I enjoy shairing my point of views with a ref and pointing out things he might of missed, always finishing with sir of course. I guess their is a thin line but it is up to the ref to lay down their boundaries, and the1 half back is basically the unofficial ref in my books hehe.

          • June 15th 2017 @ 6:36pm
            Hannes said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

            Should not. You should be marched 10 metres and if you continue should be send for a 10 minute rest. I have no time for players that try to influence the ref – it is cheating in my books.

            • June 15th 2017 @ 9:50pm
              Jemain Okinga said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

              Hi Hannes I agree talk back should be punished. But in rugby, every game of rugby played in the world, is probably being reffed differently, totally my opinion, based on no facts other than games played and games watched. From what Ive seen, my opinion is it seems every one interprets the rules so diffrently. And as the ref is the sole adjudicator, he/she is the most important person in the game. If you don’t have someone communicating, how you intend to play the game. And from there building an understanding how the ref is calling the game, you are probably at a big disadvantage. The team whom addapts the fastest to the refs interpretations helps themselves immensely imo. Thats why I see building a conversation to try and gauge how a ref thinks is the most important part of the game of rugby. For example: If you are playing a team with good linespeed, if you have rapport just saying was that offside in hearing range of a ref may or may not get the ref to check for offsides, but if he/she chooses too, most times it would slow the linespeed of the opposition defence, and even if it gives you half a second that gives your playmakers an extra moment to make a better decision or thats how I look at rugby anyway. I just think the game is usually won in the top 2%. So I get people don’t like incessant talk, but with so many diffrences in interpretation of rugbys laws it is necessary.I totally understand that could just be me who sees it like that.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 2:07pm
        Cuw said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

        i think the starting point shud be , telling the players only captain can speak to him.

        i remember a while back when Mccaw was playing under Read for crusaders, he went for a chat/ query and the ref said very politely ” you are not the captain!”.

        in super rugger each and everyone is having thier opinion aired and ref is letting them do it also or at worse engaging in the chat. maybe they think it looks nice, but does not do well when the decision is sour.

        however , i think the whole situ has arisen becoz the ref himself is making some odd calls , giving the players a chance to question.

        the word is ASSERTIVENESS . no one talks a lot back to Nigel Owens , despite his running commentary. when he says something , he says it in a way that is like the CEO telling a manager what to do.

        that is why i like KUBO also. he just says what he thinks and does not engage the players for a chat. also he is quick with the free kicks from very early , so that players do not try to use diversionary tactics. if the scrum is not setting after first collapse then the second time is a free kick. next scrum sets perfectly.

        at U20 worldcup , most refs did do well , but then i thought mainly becoz the boys were far more respectful of the decisions.

    • Roar Pro

      June 14th 2017 @ 12:11pm
      Crazy Horse said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

      Perenara took a massive dive in the Force game too. DHP received a yellow card as a result of his performance and the game was ruined. This sort of behaviour needs to be stamped out ruthlessly. Perhaps players taking a dive should receive a yellow or a tribunal appearance.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2017 @ 12:16pm
        Hoy said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Diving is subjective… Who did or did not dive… Hard to police really. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hate it with a passion, but it is just so hard to legally argue whether someone was bunging it on or not.

        But it needs to be stopped. One of the things that makes Rugby stand out from some other sports is the respect that Refs get on the field. They need to keep that respect above all else.

        • Roar Guru

          June 14th 2017 @ 12:34pm
          Wally James said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Too true Hoy. However the Laws already allow for the ref to make subjective decisions. E.g. intentionally collapsing a scrum or intentionally throwing the ball away after a penalty.

          Start penalising for diving and the players will intentionally not dive!

        • Roar Rookie

          June 14th 2017 @ 12:36pm
          piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

          it’s not that hard, if the ref decides he dived, he dived

          sole judge of fact and law and all that

        • June 15th 2017 @ 6:39pm
          Hannes said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

          Yes I agree that it is subjective but would hate to see rugby become like soccer. Use the TMO if needed to get the call right but make it clear that it will be a yellow card if you are caught. The risk will not be worth it then, it is not in the spirit oft the game.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 14th 2017 @ 12:39pm
        piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

        Banks took one too from memory – poor form

      • June 14th 2017 @ 2:08pm
        rebel said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        No he didn’t dive in the Force match. He may have stayed down too long, but that was in no way, shape or form a dive.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 14th 2017 @ 2:12pm
          piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

          maybe not a dive but a definite performance – hands to his head and rolling in ‘agony’

          • June 14th 2017 @ 2:51pm
            rebel said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

            Yes the acting can be over the top which may have alerted the video ref. But it was not a dive, if it was then there is no way the DHP would have been carded on review. Go to say it looked like good solid contact.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 2:14pm
        Cuw said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

        it takes two to tango.

        so just maybe the other party shud also stop from going for the shoulder charge after the ball is gone.

        Banks for eg got hit from a side – he did not dive but he lay there like a log before getting up with a smile.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 14th 2017 @ 12:35pm
      piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

      Agreed and constant whinging about this decision or that decision after every game only fuels it.

      Refs need to immediately march any backchat 10m and then card a continuous offender.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 1:14pm
        Old Bugger said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Absolutely agree piru.

        Refs should march ’em and card ’em if the lip gets too lippy. However, I don’t mind a ref providing a response to a captain if/ when, there’s a request for some clarification. TJP though, has shown in the past, that his game manners are aggressive and while there are instances where he may be correct, he needs to understand that continual queries, will only make him look disrespectful rather than, being the captain. If I recall, his injured captain also possesses, a similar trait.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 14th 2017 @ 1:19pm
          piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

          A query is one thing, but any dissent/argument/backtalk is not on.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 2:22pm
          Cuw said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

          there is two sides to a coin .

          TJP talks toomuch and it is not just this year. he has been like that since i have seen him play ( on telly).

          but then i cannot forget when he told the saffa ref ” you better start evening things – 8:1 against us is too much” (forget the opposition team).

          only after that did the ref start to penalize the other team.

          my point is – this season and maybe even in last season , the reffing in super rugger has been biased. for eg. last season Read who is normally controlled lost it , when Strawberry reffed the crusaders out of the park against Lions in SA.

          this season the easiest i remember is Blues match against a saffa team. and even last year they got a bad one against Kings (from memory).

          the powers that be have contributed to this mess. if there are neutral reffing panels , then half the problem will be solved. the moment u start thinking the ref is screwing u , it is natural to get upset.

          for example – i have seen most matches reffed by KUBO – and i cannot recall any unpleasant incidents.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 14th 2017 @ 5:19pm
            piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            agree 100% cuw

            One of the big advantages of having 3 (well 5) nations in the comp is the ability to always have a neutral ref. Why they stopped doing it is beyond me

            • June 14th 2017 @ 6:00pm
              Cuw said | June 14th 2017 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

              watch the under 20 world cup

              neutral refs and things go smooth 95% of the time.

              and the odd thing is some of the guys are the ones people ridicule in super rugger – like Anselemi and Nutbrown ….

            • June 14th 2017 @ 7:13pm
              AndyS said | June 14th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

              I think you’d find the reffing is far more often in favour of the perceived “good” team than it is in favour of a team from the same country as the ref. Becomes self-perpetuating…

              • Roar Rookie

                June 15th 2017 @ 10:55am
                piru said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                I don’t personally think there’s any actual bias, but if the ability exists to remove even the perception, why not take it?

              • June 15th 2017 @ 6:32pm
                Cuw said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

                well u will need to tell that to the Blues and Crusaders and few other teams , who were very good on the day but got screwed by biased reffing. (ok crusaders last year won despite the ref against Lions in SA)

              • June 15th 2017 @ 6:42pm
                Hannes said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                Or the home team

              • Roar Rookie

                June 16th 2017 @ 3:16pm
                piru said | June 16th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                Refs don’t have time for bias, they simply call what they see.

                The perception of bias (imo) comes when there is a disconnect between what the fans and players see and what the ref sees.

        • Roar Guru

          June 14th 2017 @ 4:05pm
          Wally James said | June 14th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          Old Bugger, agreed about queries about captains. If he does not understand a decision it is a bit difficult for him to help his players to stop the problem. Done in the right sway and and at the right time it is a great thing. All it requires is a bit of respect from both ref and captain and things run smoothly.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 1:11pm
      Jacko said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

      I am an avid rugby watcher, and not once in the last two seasons have I seen a penalty for backchat, turning a free kick into a penalty kick or marching ten metres.

      Wally this part of your Article tells me there isnt a major problem in Union. I believe Union handles these issues really well and will continue to do so in the future. Its easy to come up with some examples to suit your POV but I dont believe this is an issue in the game. Imagine if A Smith hadnt pointed out 2 errors by Gardner spread over 2 games Gardner was reffing.( 1 was lineout rule v Brumbies and 1 was from the tap penalty v the Reds ) Refs do make mistakes, players make mistakes and coaches make mistakes but I dont see it as any major issue in Rugby union

    • Roar Guru

      June 14th 2017 @ 1:14pm
      Ralph said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

      “If they can get away with it, why stop?”

      Because it is wrong.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 14th 2017 @ 1:19pm
        piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        It’s only wrong if the ref says it is though

        • Roar Guru

          June 14th 2017 @ 1:26pm
          Ralph said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          At the risk of lighting a fuse..

          Show me a man who needs a ref to show him right from wrong and I’ll show you a bull in a china shop standing on everybody he loves in life and not noticing.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 14th 2017 @ 1:32pm
            piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

            Oh please, we’re talking about rugby here, don’t get carried away,

            The referee is the sole judge of fact and law.

            Law 6

            • Roar Guru

              June 14th 2017 @ 2:29pm
              Ralph said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

              A man’s honour, respect for others and character could no more be left at the door than his digestive system and brain.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 14th 2017 @ 4:12pm
                piru said | June 14th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

                Seeing as we’re talking about back chat and disrespecting refs I’ll let the point go as I agree in that regard.

                I feel like you’re talking about the game at large though

    • June 14th 2017 @ 2:02pm
      jameswm said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

      Holding on to the ball or throwing or kicking it away after the whistle has gone is another one. Happens all the time, never penalised.

      As many have said – crack down on it a bit and it stops. Gesticulating with your arms is another one. Do it once, get a warning, 2nd time a penalty, 3rd a yellow. It will stop quick smart.

      I totally agree. An occasional comment in a good natured game and you don’t need to worry about it. However, as soon as it gets any more than that, warn both captains, ask them to tell their teams next comment is a penalty. The one after that is a yellow. It will stop, as we all know.

      Skipper can of course come and talk to the ref, with respect.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2017 @ 2:56pm
        Fionn said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

        Holding on to the ball or throwing or kicking it away after the whistle has gone is another one. Happens all the time, never penalised.

        As many have said – crack down on it a bit and it stops. Gesticulating with your arms is another one. Do it once, get a warning, 2nd time a penalty, 3rd a yellow. It will stop quick smart.

        I agree. In fact, penalty immediately the escalate to a YC. We don’t need to coddle players and give them warnings for doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing.

        • Roar Guru

          June 14th 2017 @ 2:57pm
          Fionn said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          then escalate to a YC.*

      • June 15th 2017 @ 6:44pm
        Hannes said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

        I hate the idea to given someone a warning. Give a penalty and card why should you get a “get out of jail” card for the first offense. The game should be played in line with the laws.

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