Our friend and fellow blogger, Ashley, felt strongly enough about the issue to send me the following Article to publish… this is his view on the matter and he asks certain rather interesting questions.
Here are his thoughts:
Has the hierarchy at New Zealand Rugby at last lost faith in their team? Have they (or at least some powerful individuals) at last reached a stage where they no longer believe that their team can win the World Cup on their own steam?
Well, from where I’m sitting it certainly seems to be the case.
Was it really a coincidence that referee (is it fair to call him that?) Bryce Lawrence was given the most crucial Group C match? Is it coincidence that he had an “off-day” and through sometimes strange decisions knocked the strongest of the Group C contenders right into South Africa’s path?
Well, if you look at the incident on its own, then yes, this can in fact be seen as only that …. a coincidence.
Everyone now and then has an off-day, so why shouldn’t referees have one? They’re human after all, aren’t they? Bryce Lawrence admits as much when he said that he “might’ve made a few errors” that “might’ve cost Australia the game”.
But was it really that, just a coincidence? I certainly don’t believe so. Wouldn’t it have made it that much easier to manipulate a game when you’re almost assured that there wouldn’t be much to choose between two teams from the start?
Then Bryce Lawrence, although he changed the whole complexion of a Group, get (yet again) the most crucial Quarterfinal Match (from a New Zealand perspective anyway) and (another coincidence?) had yet another off-day, knocking the strongest of the two contenders out of the World Cup and out of New Zealand’s way!
Problem for Bryce Lawrence was the difference between the two teams on the day was not marginal as expected (although the scoreboard suggests that).
The margin between the two teams was huge, making “what needed to be done”, that more obvious.
Now, where’s my proof for all this. Where is my proof that there’s a puppet master behind the scenes pulling strings to ensure that the monkey gets off New Zealand’s back?
This is where it becomes sticky and the thing is, I don’t have any proof, just as we wouldn’t have had any proof New Zealand and Australian officials were out to get us, had we not wrongfully received that infamous “Get the Japies”-email.
Now, I hear someone say, “they could’ve had a change of heart” and / or “that was way back in the 90’s, surely it can’t be true anymore?”. Well, do the way we were treated since then suggest that our alliance counterparts had a change of heart?
Does the lengthier bans of our players for similar offences than their New Zealand / Australian counterparts suggest they had a change of heart?
“But this is a World Cup” I hear someone say, “surely no-one can be accused of not being impartial?”
Well, does the way the boss of Referees, Paddy O’ Brien, has treated our National side, our coaches, our officials over the last few years even suggest that he’s impartial in any way?
No! How about him visiting the New Zealand side after their match against Italy to apologize in person for the way Australian referee Stuart Dickinson officiated that game.
Why do I find that strange? Try and talk to anyone at the IRB about a referee’s performance and you’ll get the normal “we do not discuss the performance of referees” –response, but when it comes to his beloved New Zealand, it doesn’t seem that the same rules apply.
Or how about a South African journalist, when trying to get hold of O’Brien during the 2010 Tri-Nations tournament, is told that O’Brien would not talk to any journalists during the tournament?
Well, in the same week he gave an audience to New Zealand journalists.
Now, when you experience that from those who need to be impartial, the question immediately arises whether there might perhaps be others who misuse their powers “to get you”, how can you not see something sinister in “coincidences” like the Bryce Lawrence ones?
This is a sad day for me indeed, I’ve been (because of our South African history) a staunch All Black supporter for a long, long time and here I (and I think many others too) believe, even before New Zealand has one hand on the trophy, that they would’ve succeeded in this World Cup mainly because of the unfair efforts of some people behind the scenes.