All this hand wringing and cries of foul because the French ref Romain Poite, in this past Saturday’s game, sunk South Africa’s chances of winning in Eden Park Auckland, since 1937 needs a rethink.
As fans whose emotions are fueled by the learned and very emotional commentators and animated in studio television presenters, we need to make a far more calculated observation on this, as South Africa is now playing at the highest level of international sports and all occasions and events need to be anticipated, rehearsed, with a number of options planned to give South Africa the advantage.
I am not so sure the Springbok side does plan for every eventuality and does have options for all scenarios and the fact that Romain Poite erred in his decision making, of that everyone, including the IRB, have made abundantly clear, I blame Heyneke Meyer (Springbok Coach) and Jean de Villiers (Springbok Captain) for allowing this to happen.
What we see on the field, as does the TMO and now with the introduction of the ref on the field being able to review footage on the bigscreen, taken from 18 camera angles during game time, absolutely requires that the Coach & Captain make provision for every eventuality and that means challenging and quering the ref on the field and that, starts before the game with the debriefing and the one-on-one the ref has with each captain before the game.
This is where the psychological gamesmanship starts.
I am not so sure that Jean de Villiers is properly mentored and fully briefed to counter these subtle situations as both he and Heyneke Meyer randomly ad lib before and after the games, trotting out cliches.
Had Jean de Villiers been properly mentored before the NZ game, he should have had a full de-briefing paper on the psychological make up of Romain Poite and made fully aware that this French ref and northern hemisphere refs, especially French refs, have alternative decision making processes and these should have been defined.
Jean de Villiers should have expected alternative rulings and spontaneously responded to the refs whistle and ruling and insisted that the footage be immediately reviewed on the big screen.
This is by no means in defense of Romain Poite other than this was human error and as alternative as the French are, Poite could have been told by Jean de Villiers in the on-on-one briefing before the game, “Monsieur Poite, because we now have the liberty of watching the footage on the big screen together, I wish to advise you that I will be requesting that if there is the possibility of a sin binning or a red card, as Captain, I will be asking that you please confirm this decision by calling for a time-out and a review of the incident on the big screen and to draw off the alternative sightlines of the two assistant referees, as well as the TMO, to ensure that a true and fair decision is made. This is by no means a reflection of your ability to referee, but only to ensure that a just decision is made”.
Our Captain needs to b more assertive and he needs to be properly mentored and debriefed on the personalities blowing the game. A personality profile of each and every ref has to be done as every person, including ourselves, have quirks and foibles and tell tale tics and behavioral markers that can be planned for and anticipated in advance.
Today’s professional sports require alternative thinking and scientifically assessed scenarios and South Africa’s brains trust on and off the field on Saturday were shown to be under prepared.
Personality and psychological profiling has to be done on all the Match Officials, as well as the opposition, down to whether they have a hearing challenge, wearing contact lenses and have a distinctive character that requires a special approach.
And so I hope that the Springbok management set up now do a personality profile on French referee Jérôme Garcès handling the Springboks’ upcoming Test against the Wallabies at Newlands.
Time to ratchet this up a notch off the field and give the Springbok Captain a better service.