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I suspect that more important offenses are missed in rugby than any other sport. But don’t blame the refs – or not too much, wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun. The problem is so many things are happening at the same time on and off the ball, it is almost impossible for one man to pick up.

Mark Reason

Did I say one man? In fact it is almost impossible for three men to pick up, because the assistant refs seem to miss most of the stuff as well. The situation has become so bad, it may be time to consider a second referee on the pitch whose sole area of concern is to monitor what is happening off the ball.

There was wholesale cheating during the international weekend, as is usual in the modern game at the top level. Australia’s try against England was created because Nick Phipps run through a gap created by off the ball obstruction. Italy’s try against New Zealand was similarly fashioned and so was France’s third try against Argentina.

The poor old Pumas, who keep getting the worst of the refs particularly when Mr Walsh is involved, could have justifiably wondered why four Frenchmen were not yellow carded. The first French offender should have been punished with at least a yellow and arguably also a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on. Then there was a tackle on a man in the air, a hit five yards after the man had passed the ball and finally a trip. The last two went completely unnoticed by the officials.

At present the IRB is busily reviewing the Adam Thomson affair – and quite right too. A local New Zealand ref told me he was aghast at the leniency of the punishment. He said it was typical of the judicial bodies who seem to put the ref on trial more than the accused player and make it almost impossible for him to do his job on a Saturday.

But perhaps the IRB could also give some thought of how it is going to deal with this plague of cheating. Football is far more sensible on the issue. It yellow cards players for diving and it red cards players who foul in order to prevent a direct goal scoring opportunity.

I would like to see rugby get similarly medieval on the asses of these serial cheats. Anyone who prevents a try scoring opportunity by cheating, as in the deliberate knock on, should be red carded. Anyone who creates a try-scoring opportunity by cheating, as in blatantly holding or blocking a player off the ball, should be red carded. They should then be up before the beak and suspended for a game or two. It is the only way to get this stuff out of the game.

It may also be worth considering an orange card for players who seek to gain an advantage by holding and obstructing and shepherding and deliberately preventing release. Two orange cards would lead to a red card.

While on judicial matters, I also wonder why the IRB is acting on Thomson but not on Samoa. At least three Samoans should have been cited and suspended after the victory against Wales for a swinging arm, a no arms high hit and a highly dangerous clean-out. No top level team will want to play Samoa, a side that brings so much joy to other parts of its rugby, if it can’t clean up its game. The cost in players is just too high.

At the moment it’s anarchy out there. The IRB needs to make 2013 the year when it cleans up the game. It needs to instruct refs to issue red cards for cheating and for violence and it needs to warn coaches there will be zero tolerance. The IRB then needs to back the refs to the hilt in the judicial hearings.

The IRB’s new boss has made a good start, but he needs to go much, much further.

9 Responses to The voice of Reason

  • 1

    I am glad we are finished up North, the media is trying its utmost to question anything from the SH

  • 2

    Andrew Hore’s swinging straight arm hit on Bradley Davies at the weekend was an act of thuggery and plain for all to see. It was a moment of madness and one that has done the All Blacks no good whatsoever. Hore has presented the British media with a perfect opportunity to target the All Blacks ahead of the final match of the tour against England.

    The IRB judiciary will deal with it in the appropriate manner and the issue will be quickly put to bed. It is hoped that the ban imposed is in the form of games rather than weeks. To get (say) a four week ban, with only one game left before the summer holidays would leave the IRB open to ridicule. A four match ban, ideally four Test matches, would be a more suitable format for whatever punishment is handed down but, in this litigious world, it’s a matter of time before the perpetrator of such an act faces criminal charges.

    One wonders if a man who in 2005 was convicted for gratuitously killing a seal could be taken seriously by any judicial enquiry when it comes to defending his own good intentions. That was reprehensible behavior as was the hit on Davies.

    Hore is known as one of the old school – a tough, uncompromising farmer who is never afraid of a few beers when the work on the field is done. However, the 74 cap All Black is not somebody with a record of foul play.

    The reaction of Steve Hansen to the incident has been regrettable and the lack of condemnation from the NZRU equally hard to understand. Hansen has suggested that his team are not “thugs” and that he was “resigned” to the fact that Hore would probably be suspended. Hansen’s reaction has probably caused as much anger in the Northern Hemisphere as the incident itself. He could easily have made it clear that such behavior is unacceptable and that the player would face disciplinary action in addition to the likely sanction pending from the IRB.

  • 3

    superBul wrote:

    The reaction of Steve Hansen to the incident has been regrettable and the lack of condemnation from the NZRU equally hard to understand. Hansen has suggested that his team are not “thugs” and that he was “resigned” to the fact that Hore would probably be suspended. Hansen’s reaction has probably caused as much anger in the Northern Hemisphere as the incident itself. He could easily have made it clear that such behavior is unacceptable and that the player would face disciplinary action in addition to the likely sanction pending from the IRB.

    Doesnt this remind you how they questioned Peter de Villiers statement after the eye gouge incident.

    Must a coach really roll over on his back …. or must he stand by his player?
    Well most of South Africas Springboks admitted that their biggest respect for PdeV was the way he stood up for them. He first of all believed in his men, then the consequences, right or wrong i loved it.

    The heat is now on the World Champs, been that always, the moment you win the World Cup the whole pack is on your back. Enjoy it NZ, we had it.

  • 4

    superBul wrote:

    The heat is now on the World Champs, been that always, the moment you win the World Cup the whole pack is on your back. Enjoy it NZ, we had it.

    Now we are free and they admire us.

    “It is interesting to contrast the response of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers to Dean Grayling’s appalling hit on Richie McCaw during the Rugby Championship game in Dunedin. Meyer apologized to McCaw after the game and remarked that “we are a team who prides ourselves on discipline and can’t afford these things in games”. De Villiers said that the Springboks would never condone dirty play and that Grayling would face internal action. Grayling was banned for two weeks but has not played for the Springboks since”

  • 5

    Foul play can never be condoned but, from time to time, some players will suffer a rush of blood to the head and do something which they later regret. Repeat offenders need to be rehabilitated or weeded out of the game. Coaches must be consistent in how they respond to foul play. Steve Hansen is coaching one of the great All Black sides and they are playing magnificent rugby. To show himself worthy of the IRB coach of the year award (for which he must be odds on favourite), he should take a public stance on foul play – for the good of the game and its future

    Comments are always great to read, it gives you a good idea of how OTHERS see it, and WE here at RT have a great balanced view, RESPECT

    Read this-

    Luis Canongia Costa

    about 16 hours ago

    I cannot agree when you put Dean Grayling’s hit on Richie McCaw at the same level as Andrew Hore foul play. Grayling was an intentional act. Bradley Davies was in clear obstruction, Hore just went to clean but in the heat of the moment made a foolish and dangerous play. Like Sam Warburton at the World Cup. Red card, and so on … but not intentional foul.

    Michael Goldstein

    about 16 hours ago

    I’ve been an Andrew Hore fan for years. At the breakdown he’s like having a second #7, and he has the knack of coming up with the critical turnover just when the ABs look like they might be running into a spot of bother.

    I also agree with @Luis that Hore made a foolish and dangerous play, in a thoughtless moment.

    However, to say it’s not “intentional” is disingenuous. Hore intended to take down Bradley Davies. In a thoughtless moment he did something that was dangerous and injured another player.

    As painful as it is for me to say this, the IRB should throw the book at Hore. Hansen should get his head out of his a** and come down equally hard, if for no other reason than to realize that the ABs are more often the target of this kind of thuggery than the perpetrators, and that he’d do well to set an example of the “right” way to deal with this.

    Tom Fogarty

    about 15 hours ago

    Luis – Are you seriously suggesting that this was in any way accidental or unintentional? Bradley Davis must be 6’ 5″. Andrew Hoare must be only 5’ 10″ or 11″. He has clearly had to reach up to get the swinging arm high enough to catch Davis on the jaw. Bradley Davis must have been 2-3m from the maul. The maul was just starting and he was tracking back to join from the Welsh side. He was running parallel to the maul and wasn’t looking like he was going to spoil in any way or enter from the wrong side. It is reckless and off the ball. No question.

  • 7

    Hore will get a slap on the wrist. New Zealand players never get their just punishments.

  • 8

    I think that the media shitstorm that has come down since this incident will force the IRB to impose a decent sanction, but coming at the end of a season it is likely to be minimized in effect. What I hope this does is turn the tide of protectionism over the hallowed All Blacks and their tendency to get off lightly.

    But I’m not betting the house on it.

  • 9

    Great article, Super, but when a ref misses a loosehead prop’s butt sitting at anything but parallel to the touchline, and then blowing the opposing TH for infringements, that’s a disgrace.

    AB’s have been known to push the boundaries of fair and legal play. But when they overstep that mark they do it spectacularly. But every so often, they do get their come uppance. One such incident was when Caveman Chabal broke Brad Thornes’s ( I think) jaw when Thorne tried to tackle him.

    In the same way the AB’s don’t like opposing teams to challenge the haka. Surely the whole aim is to throw down a challenge, and then for your opponent to accept the challenge?


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