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I often wonder what percentage of matches are influenced by a referee. I suspect there aren’t that many.
We often see spectators focus on the last-minute decisions by referees, especially in close matches where a three pointer can be the difference between winning and losing.
Yet they forget to consider the full 80 minutes of a contest as there are sure as anything other moments in a match where a referee has erred.
The important thing to remember is that referees are human, they are influenced by experiences, home crowds and the like.
During the June Test series between New Zealand and France, Benjamin Fall was red carded early in the match by Angus Gardener after Beauden Barrett landed dangerously after an aerial challenge. Gardener was hung out to dry by World Rugby on that occasion.
One has to wonder whether incidents like that influence how referees react.
This past weekend spectators were enraged at a TMO review in the 81st minute of the Test between South Africa and England when Owen Farrell attempted what most feel was an illegal shoulder charge, thus denying South Africa of a potential match winning kick.
While the question is legitimate the reality is South Africa should have taken the referee out of the equation – and England for that matter – after dominating the match in the first half.
Whilst England fought manfully during the first half they were ready for the picking and it was a plethora of unforced errors, poor decision-making and inability to adapt their game play that kept England firmly in a position to fight back.
Territorial pressure and possession pressure alone eventuates to nothing if you cannot add scoreboard pressure as well. You have to keep the scoreboard ticking over at regular intervals, and in that, South Africa completely failed.
During this period of dominance, Malcolm Marx over threw three line outs five meters from the English line.
Questions should be asked why South Africa did not opt for a scrum once the first few overthrows occurred.
Questions should be asked why South Africa did not opt for a scrum when Maro Itoje was sin-binned as South Africa had a clear advantage in the scrum and with Itoje off surely that would have been an option considering Marx’s atrocious line out throwing.
With such territorial dominance why was the drop kick never an option?
Why did SA not opt for the three points when things went askew?
On attack South Africa had numerous opportunities fluffed due to inaccurate passing, poor catching skills and simply unforced errors.
Damian De Allende had a brilliant match up to the point where his cockiness caused him to run the ball in one hand, fending off tacklers and not looking after possession. At that point he was ‘t interested in his support runners.
He was also the culprit to concede an absolute brainless penalty when he took up space in a ruck already won, and then proceeded to hack at the ball with his foot.
South Africa failed to build scoreboard pressure, they believed their own hype that they will dominate the English pack that they never even considered the fact that they needed to build a lead.
They simply continued to bash at the English with no regard to the fact that they weren’t actually achieving much.
The leadership group need to have more match awareness, they need better game management, they need better decision making.
Watching this team for the umpteenth time commit the same errors and poor decisions is seriously frustrating.
To win a match you need to score points, not one Englishmen cares their team were under the cosh, they used their limited opportunities to score the necessary points to win the match, thus giving their supporters the bragging rights, whilst us South African supporters once again have to wonder what the hell has to happen for this team to get things right.
Rassie Erasmus needs this team to consistently in every match make good decisions, manage the field of play and the match situation, build the score and take opponents out of the match when they dominate.
That is the only way you can take the referee out of the match.
Angus Gardener is not at fault here, he made one potential mistake, the Boks committed dozens of mistakes, they can only blame themselves for this loss.