SANZAR have warned coaches that taking unnecessary pot-shots at referees could land them in hot water.
New Zealand referee Chris Pollock has been axed from the Super Rugby play-offs, because of poor form.
The decision to drop the Kiwi down the pecking order comes in the wake of a growing chorus of outcries against the declining standards of refereeing.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, Blues coach John Kirwan and Waratahs mentor Michael Cheika all criticised referees at the weekend.
SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters, in an exclusive interview with this website, confirmed that they will not tolerate abusive behaviour towards match officials.
“We are looking at those at present and considering them,” when asked if there had been any complaints about all the coaches having a go at referees.
“Ultimately we don’t want to stifle debate on the game,” Peters told this website.
“There is no problem with a genuinely held belief that a decision [made by a referee] was wrong, [when] using temperate language.
“However, if it goes to questioning the integrity of the referee or is abusive or insulting [language] that is when it is of more concern to us.”
Coetzee, in his post-season assessment after the team’s 30-13 victory over he Bulls at Newlands at the weekend, pulled no punches – despite his team already having being fined once this season in a stand-off with officialdom.
Coetzee said he felt there were two matches in which questionable calls from match official cost his team – defeats which ultimately cost them a place in the Super Rugby play-offs.
The Stormers coach’s verbal barrage against match officials came on a weekend which also saw Kirwan and Cheika launch scathing attacks on referees.
An incensed Kirwan demanded referee Chris Pollock be held accountable for his ruling in a red-card controversy which he said ruined their Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at the weekend.
And Cheika has joined his colleagues in taking aim at the poor standard of refereeing in Super Rugby, suggesting they are turning the game into ‘touch rugby’ – with Steve Walsh the target of his scolding.
Earlier in the season former All Black coach Graham Henry, who is now a Blues assistant coach, was let off with a reprimand and an agreement to issue a public apology – having labelled fellow Kiwi Keith Brown a “blind TMO”.
The growing number of coaches crying out against referees and other match officials suggest the problem needs to be addressed urgently.
The axing of Pollock, New Zealand’s No.1 referee, will be seen as a step in the right direction.
But Peters warned coaches that there is a fine line between acceptable criticism and abusive behaviour.