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When we raised the referee issue again here on the blog during the Highlanders vs Blues game, I knew we were onto something. But like this article says there will always be opposing views. My question was, will we ever get consistency? At the end of this article read another article about the fears the Waratahs have for Jonathan Kaplan later today.

Rugby Heaven NZ

There were two coaches with opposing views of the officiating after the Blues 15-10 win over the Highlanders at Carisbrook last night.

Not surprisingly winning Blues coach Pat Lam was pleased with the performance of whistleblower Chris Pollock, particularly at the breakdown.

“As a forward pack we knew we had to front and the physicality was crucial,” Lam said. “I thought it was a real tough contest, test-match like.”

Lam focused on the breakdown, a traditional strength of the Highlanders but an area where the Blues were able to gain – at the very least – parity.

“I thought the referee controlled that really well.”

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph saw the game slightly differently.

He was unsure how Jarrad Hoeata could be singled out for closing off the ball just before halftime and sin binned, while the Blues did not get a similar punishment following at least two cynical fouls immediately after the break.

“I haven’t had a really good look at it but there were certainly times when I thought we were hard done by, particularly when the opposition were doing the same thing.”

Lam said the Blues would not go any further with the dangerous tackle on substitute halfback Toby Morland near the end of the game by Aaron Smith and Hoetata, and were happy to leave it to the citing commissioner.

Joseph believed it had been an unfortunate accident rather than anything malicious and Morland did not appear to be injured.

It’s hard to argue with Joseph’s logic over the Hoeata sin bin and the way the Blues defended their own line after the break.

Pollock judged Hoeata had sealed the ball off and not allowed the Blues to recycle possession but Blues No 8 Peter Saili had already been monstered off the back of the scrum by Adam Thomson and stood no chance.

Just what sort of gravity-defying manoeuvre Hoeata was supposed to do to avoid going down with the entire Highlanders forward pack propelling him will be revealed in the next edition of Science Weekly.

None of that should take away from what was a quality Blues effort, against a Highlanders team which did enough to win but was guilty of not finishing off a plethora of scoring opportunities.

Luke McAlister kicked five penalties from six attempts for all his team’s points.

The Highlanders had injury woes, losing Tony Brown to a hamstring injury which forced a major reshuffle of the backline.

Robbie Robinson moved to first five, with Matt Saunders coming into second five and Ben Smith moving back to fullback.

Smith was outstanding after the move, breaking the line often.

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Kaplan’s whistle could blow away Waratahs

Rugby Heaven AUS

Going on history, the Waratahs will not welcome the appointment of controversial referee Jonathan Kaplan to the Waratahs’ match against the Rebels. The Waratahs have a mind-boggling record of 14 losses and one win in the 15 matches Kaplan has controlled involving them.

If the unlucky losing streak under Kaplan continues tomorrow night and other results go against them, the Waratahs could be as far as nine points adrift of the top six by the end of round 11.

Kaplan has incensed the Waratahs on many occasions, but never more so than the 2006 semi-final against the Hurricanes. During that match he awarded the Hurricanes a dubious scrum penalty after which Jimmy Gopperth kicked the winning goal, with the Hurricanes running out 16-14 winners.

Kaplan’s most recent Super Rugby match was the Rebels’ first-ever victory, in round two against the Brumbies. In the final moments, the Rebels were awarded a much-criticised penalty for a push at a scrum by Brumbies prop Salesi Ma’afu, and Danny Cipriani duly kicked the winning goal.

Kaplan then came in for some serious heat after awarding an invalid try to Wales in the Six Nations against Ireland that again proved decisive. Since then he has not been given a Super Rugby match, until now.

The Herald was unable to reach Kaplan for comment last night.

The last time he took charge of a Waratahs match was in April 2009, when they were defeated 20-6 by the Bulls, ending an 11-match winning streak at the SFS.

The Herald’s match report read: ”… the game was rapidly becoming cruelled by the pedantic refereeing of South African whistle blower Jonathan Kaplan. His most incredulous call was when he pinged NSW prop Benn Robinson for tackling Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner in the air in the 55th minute. If anything, it was Kirchner who jumped into Robinson on the ground. Steyn kicked a penalty after the decision.

”But throughout the night Kaplan called forward passes that were not and penalised NSW’s scrum for infringements they didn’t understand.

”At the 57th minute NSW tight-head prop Dan Palmer even asked Kaplan for guidance after being penalised in the last two scrums.

”Kaplan replied: ‘I can’t remember.’

”Even the Bulls were flummoxed by many calls.”

Robinson said the wet weather would make scrums a key element of this contest, and was confident after recently dominating rivals in that area. ”As a forward pack, you always want to have that momentum or that consistency. We talk a lot about consistency in the scrums, and I think over the last few weeks we’ve been getting that,” Robinson said.

”I think the scrum is going to play a big role this weekend. The weather might close in a little bit, and there’ll be a few dropped balls, and the scrums will play a big role.

”As much as I like free-flowing rugby, I love to get my head into those scrums again.”

2 Responses to Opposing views of officiating standards

  • 1

    Highlanders scrumhalf Aaron Smith will appear in front of a SANZAR Judicial Hearing after being cited for a tip tackle.

  • 2

    QUEENSLAND winger Digby Ioane faces possible sanctioning from SANZAR after labelling official Keith Brown as ”the worst ref ever” on his Twitter account.
    The Reds lost their first match since round two in controversial circumstances when Kiwi Brown awarded the Hurricanes a penalty on the bell and Aaron Cruden kicked the winning goal in Wellington on Saturday night to knock the visitors from first to third on the Super Rugby ladder.
    Players are forbidden from criticising referees under SANZAR code of conduct rules, and Ioane’s statement could land the Wallabies flyer in hot water. Captains and coaches have learnt to speak cryptically when questioned by reporters after games on controversial refereeing decisions, but social media outlets such as Twitter can be a dangerous outlet for frustration for those less experienced.

    “The worst ref ever!!!!!!!!!!!’ … Digby Ioane’s tweet on his @digbyioane account

    Athletes in several sports have been reprimanded for inappropriate Twitter posts and while Ioane’s comment is hardly offensive to the majority, it could nonetheless be deemed as an attack on Brown.
    Former Reds coach Eddie Jones was fined $10,000 in 2007 after describing the refereeing performance of Matt Goddard as ”disgraceful”, ”ludicrous” and ”lacking common sense”.
    At the time, Jones expressed frustration at the stifling of opinion on refereeing. ”You’re not allowed comment on anything in the game, so I’m not about to comment because if you criticise anyone you might get in trouble,” Jones said after the fine was imposed.
    ”What it does is that it shows that if you’re passionate about the game … and you want the game to get better, you run the risk of being fined. We’ve basically killed any comment about the game. Refereeing is an integral part of the game.
    ”I didn’t make any comment attributed to the referee himself – I was commenting about the standard of refereeing and commenting about the game, therefore I won’t comment.”
    The Reds’ loss ended a seven-game winning streak and caused them to drop out of the all-important top two – who will receive a bye in the first week of the finals and then host the semi-finals. Queensland also have a tough run home with ladder-leading Blues, competition favourites the Crusaders and the resurgent Highlanders in their path.


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