I find the current criticism against referees in rugby union to be extremely hypocritical.

Mostly because these criticisms are based on the premise that referees go out to cheat a team out of a game or win deliberately.

I cannot claim that every single referee in rugby union is squeaky clean or that no referee ever cheated in the past, but to believe that professional referees in today’s day and age of technology deliberately go out to cheat is frankly absurd.

What irritates me even more is that the people most likely to criticize referees have little to know comprehension or understanding of the laws of rugby union to start off with – just tune into any rugby game (commentators), or any rugby magazine show (specifically the ones supporters phone in), or read so-called experts opinions in newspapers and online publications and you will find that a proper understanding of the laws is something as lacking as consistency in a Blues Super 14 campaign.

Depending on where loyalties lie, commentators or ‘experts’ will quickly highlight indiscretions by referee’s that went against their team in a particular match, but ‘conveniently’ avoid calls that went for them at the expense of the opposition in the same match.

It is quite simple, referees are human beings, and human beings are prone to making errors.

Referee associations or unions go out of their way to equip their members with the right tools (correct application of the laws) – one just has to sit and chat to a guy like Andre Watson or join in on one of their seminars or workshops to realise the amount of work referees go through behind the scenes.

It is also not strange to find a referee officiate in 4 matches, on 4 different continents through 4 different time zones in 4 weeks – yet we never hear them complain about jet-lag, or being tired, or missing home if they slightly lack in proper execution in their duties.

I read with amazement now how Matt Giteau was unlucky to be fined following his outburst on the officiating of Steve Walsh in their recent match against the Waratahs which according to most ‘experts’, might have spelled the end of their campaign in the Super 14.

Another expert believes the Brumbies should even sue (only he knows who) should they not make the play-off’s!

Well firstly has Giteau actually for one second considered that his piss-poor form throughout the whole bloody campaign might have contributed more to the Brumbies’ slump than one questionable decision about a double-movement in a try?

Secondly, has the other ‘expert’ considered for one second on what grounds the Brumbies could sue?

Did WP Rugby sue Sireli Naqelevuki when he gave away a stupid penalty in the dying moments of the Currie Cup semi-final in 2009 apparently costing the franchise or union millions for not making or hosting the final?

Do coaches or teams sue their players they publicly accuse and admit that they lacked proper execution, making stupid, UNFORCED, mistakes which cost them games which effectively could spell the end of their campaign?

Would a player sue a coach for employing the wrong game plan?

Do yourself a favour, in this weekend’s games (and if you have statistics of all the games) count how many unforced, or deliberate errors players make in one game. Add those up and compare them to unforced, or ‘deliberate’ mistakes referees make and tell me who should really sue who for wasting their precious time.

SANZAR referees have made a massive drive this year in publicly standing up and taking action against underperforming referees.

The move was to be commended but I failed to notice any amount of excessive column space or airtime being awarded for this very brave move.

In fact, I believe the referees have actually opened Pandora’s Box here, where whenever a player, coach or some ‘expert’ scream loud enough at some injustice being done against them or their team, it will simply be expected to release or demote one of their referees, rightly or wrongly.

There is no question referees make mistakes, any human being that has to make over 500 decision in 80 minutes will make the odd error – but to blame them of cheating or having some sort of bias towards teams is the worst form of hypocrisy ever imaginable.

I would much rather want to see referees instilling legal action against arrogant rugby players screaming at them or waving arms where they believe something was done against the law, or even better, suing so-called commentators or experts involved in media where they blatantly get the laws wrong proclaiming to millions of viewers or listeners how useless a referee is…

15 Responses to Let’s rather sue stupid people

  • 1

    Morne, I agree.

    However, let’s also face facts, there are some referees who are clearly better than others, just like there are clearly some better players than others… or better supporters than others… that is just the natural way of the world.

    One often sees that certain refs have a knack of letting a game flow whilst others are really pedantic on the penalty whistle… for instance, with Walsh and Dickenson you must mentally prepare for a game where there will be more stopages and more penalties and a less free-flowing game… that is just who they are and how they blow a game.

    But I specifically agree that no referee goes out there to be blatantly biased or unfair…. well, I hope not!

    I also still maintain that a good side wins, despite an ordinary preformance of a referee on the day!

  • 2

    Luckily SA is not the Litigation-demented, sue-happy-clappy Country that the States are where you could literally sue yourself if you put your underpants on the wrong way because you were still deur die kak in the morning.

  • 3


    Of course you would!

    What was it the one Bulls supporter told me one day???

    “In Pretoria koop ons nie spelers nie, ons koop refs!”

    Anyhow, I agree there are better ones and not so good ones, this article was really a reaction to a JJ Harmse piece on News 24 and a twitter entry by Keo (who suggested the Brumbies sue).

    And then of course I threw in a pet bloody hate of mine – so-called experts paid good money to commentate or host programs and still getting basic bloody laws wrong.

  • 4

    3@ Morne – Yip, good rugby journalists are few and far between… in fact I often think that the only good journalist is a dead one.

    In the Media Industry there is this “Air” of “We are superior” between the Journo’s or Editorial Staff and the rest of the backbone of the Industry, whilst it is actually the Advertising Staff who are responsible for the income of Newspapers… their success dictates whether a Publication makes it or not… all that the Editorial Staff can do is to bring out a quality Publication to boost readership and circulation…. but of the real world they know sweet blue fanny-all!

  • 5

    3@ Morne – Give me your run down on who’s going to beat who on the weekend.

    Some very important games this week…..

  • 6


    Some damn difficult calls here.

    The ones with stars can very easily go the other way imo:

    Tahs over Highlanders *
    Saders over Stormers *
    Force *
    Bulls *

  • 7

    6@ Morne – Well, here’s how I see it, also thinking that it is a bloody lottery this weekend.

    Tahs… Landers have become also-rans
    Stormers… barely
    Reds… they are just to well placed to give up the ghost now, I think
    Bulls… barely

  • 8

    Thanks Morne, this article is long overdue…

  • 9

    Maybe the Lions supporters could initiate a class action against the Exco’ for Alcoholism rehabilitation costs?

    Alternatively, we could invade the GLRU / Lions offices, perform full frontal orbital lobotomies on all management and Exco’ members, and in the swish of a scalpel double their cpapacity for making “the right choice”?

  • 10


    You don’t think the Lions could “force” a win?

  • 11


    On the other hand, maybe if I had a lobotomy I could learn to spell capacity correctly.

  • 12

    I think it is time for a Fight Club Thread, who’s in and who’s out… a seperate thread will be put up for that?

  • 13

    Yes refs will always make mistakes and yes we will always complain, but i would imagine blatently cheating would be rare, but then again one wonders about Paul Marks who reffed the Sharks game, i mean really, reffing his home team and the calls he made against the Sharks were shocking.

    I think think people complaining about the standard of reffing has bought about that they are now being held accountable, which is a good thing as they can cost a team that should have won a win and then maybe a spot in a semi final and even cost a team a win in the final.

  • 14

    Would love todo fight club but in the few minutes i have been online to type this i have gone through 6 megs, something is downloading somewhere and i cant find, have been looking for 2 days now, ok up to 8 megs and i am capped on vodacom broadband.

  • 15

    13 – Treehugs, Agree with Paul Marks, not sure if he went out to cheat, but his reffing was atrocious and we had him as a assistant ref the next week and he cost us there too.

    Just think he was not up to the S14 level. Should have been dropped completely and not even been able to be assistant.


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