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Hump ​​Day news – Green and Gold Rugby

Opinion Piece – why inconsistency often isn’t

I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many complaints about refereeing as what I’ve seen this year. Sure there have always been complaints, and there are a number of coaches who use the referee as an excuse for their losses on a regular basis. What I do find amusing is that the same coaches never seem to question the referee when they win, only when they lose. These coaches (and players and supporters) also seem to like pointing out one or two plays where the so-called wrong decision decided the game without apparently recognizing the hundreds of decisions made by players from both teams all the way through the game that actually decided. the contest. However, this year it seems these complaints have grown out of proportion and I blame a few things for this. Firstly, that utter dickhead Erasmus and his video of him, along with the pathetic response from World Rugby, that seems to have given tacit approval for every coach, player and supporter to think that it is now ok to question every decision a referee makes. Secondly, the inability of coaches and players to modify their tackling technique and defensive patterns to reduce head contact that has been seen such an increase in cards during most games. And thirdly, the lack of understanding by most coaches, players, commentators and supporters on the laws of the game and how they are applied during a game. Not totally unexpected as there are a lot of laws and the World Rugby Guidelines tell referees how they should be applied are not common knowledge – even among some referees.

Now we all know, or those of us who have played know, that rugby is a dynamic game with a lot happening. The biggest difference between rugby and other codes where the ball is carried into contact is that for the other codes when the contact occurs the contest stops and the game is reset and play starts again. In rugby the moment of contact is actually the start of the contest for the ball, Players run into each other, tackles are made and then both sides continue to contest for the ball. Rugby itself is built on the premise of the laws enabling a fair contest for the ball both when you are attacking and when you are defending. Sure skill, application of the laws and tactics allow one side to be better but the laws don’t favor either and specifically allow for a fair competition (except the rolling maul which I personally hate). The dynamism of the game and the way that there is so much happening means that the decisions made during the game are almost completely subjective and are based on what the referee is seeing at the time. The difference between a good and not so good referee is largely based on the ability of the referee to get to the right position, at the right time, to be able to make the best decision on the law for the game at that time. Inevitably when the ball is being contested there is a lot happening and if a referee is on one side they’ll rule one way, and if on the other side with a different picture they will likely rule another way. Inevitably during a match the tv and people on the sideline will see a different picture from the referee and so often don’t understand why a particular decision was made.

One of the biggest complaints that often comes in after a game of rugby is that people want to see more consistency with the rulings by the referee during a game. In a lot of cases this comes about because a referee will sometimes penalize a player doing something and at other times when it looks almost exactly the same they won’t and this can be confusing. The main reason for this is that referees apply the laws of the game in two ways – technically and tactically. The technical aspect of the game is as the law is written. A flanker is ahead of the last part of a ruck or maul and so is offside and incurs a penalty – not usually any argument. However the referee also applies the law in a tactical manner. This is based on the material impact of the law. So if the flanker is offside and the ball is coming out that side of the ruck/maul then they can materially affect what happens and so they get penalized. If, on another occasion, the ball comes out the other side and the offside flanker doesn’t affect how it’s played then the referee won’t penalize them and will instead allow the game to continue. However, all that a spectator sees is a player offside and sometimes being penalized and sometimes not. Even worse, when their player is penalized and the opposition one isn’t for what they see as the same play they feel aggrieved and start asking the referee to be consistent. actually the referee is consistent in that he/she is consistently applying the law in a tactical manner so that the game can flow not be a continual stop start for penalties.

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