In the gritty South African win last Saturday, a Bok water carrier harangued an assistant referee. He followed the AR up the touchline, yelling at him that South Africa had kicked a 50/22.
The throw into the ensuing lineout, he said, should have been South Africa’s. The English referee, Matthew Carley, threatened to send the water carrier off if he spoke to the AR like that again.
After the match, it is reported the Bok coach, Jacques Nienaber, said the water carrier had done so on his instruction. Jacques apologised because, he said, he had wrongly assumed it was a 50/22 kick. The Boks had taken the ball back inside their own 50 and so, the law allowing them to get the throw into the lineout, did not apply.
Conspicuous by its absence, was an apology for the harassment of the AR by the water carrier. It was a disgraceful performance by the water carrier. He has no right to speak to an AR at all, let alone in an attempt to convince the AR of bad law application.
It was appalling conduct by the coach. What arrogance is it that makes him think he should influence a game by having one of the staff attempt to influence an AR? It put the water carrier in an invidious position. He should have disobeyed the instruction from the coach. But, if he did so, no doubt he would be in in peril of retribution within the Bok administration.
The incident is hardly surprising though. There was 62 minutes of that style of haranguing placed on YouTube not so long ago. A desire to influence referees in their favour would seem endemic in the Bok administration.
The thing which I find so difficult to comprehend about it is that, for some decades now, South Africans have been renowned for their hard men upfront and their talent behind them. Their captains have been gracious in both defeat and victory. The team plays the game hard but fair. Their administrators are, sometimes, in stark contrast to that.
Attempting to influence match officials is not only unfair but corrupt. I am not naïve enough to think all countries don’t use accepted channels to correct what they perceive to be inaccurate refereeing. Fair enough. Sometimes refereeing is inaccurate. It wasn’t this time though.
But that’s not the point. The point is the views of the coach, a player, a water carrier or the bloke screaming at the ref with a pie in one hand and a plastic schooner in the other six seats from the back of the stadium should be neither valued nor sought.
While the game is going on anyway. Law six says so. After the game is a different matter. “Hey ref! Here’s a beer. I wanted to have a chat to you about…” Now that will influence a ref in a much more pleasant fashion.
Congratulations Matthew Carley. More strength to your arm.