Do you know all the rules of Rugby? Why then blame the referee?
This weekend saw 2 matches being played in Vodacom Super Rugby that was crucial in the South African scheme of things. During and after both matches the referee was lambasted with critique on how the game was handled and how many mistakes they made. Commentators and supporters alike had a go and they were not soft in some of their comments. On Facebook and twitter calls came for the TMO to play a bigger part and some even suggested that every decision should go to them. I don’t agree with most on this matter and will probably be crucified for this article, but then so be it.
Jaco Peyper did not have a brilliant game but as @simplysean_ said on twitter the best team still won the game. Super Sport commentator, Bob Skinstad disagreed with most of the decisions that went against the Kings and made it very clear on air. He, himself made some mistakes while commentating and showing out Peyper’s errors, but that seems to be ok in everyone’s books.
Nick Mallett had a full go at Craig Joubert after the Bulls v Brumbies game. True he also had a go at Dewald Potgieter for his poor decision making. Joubert got blasted for the scrum infringements by the Brumbies that weren’t penalized. What they didn’t point out was the breakdown infringements of the Bulls that also went unnoticed.
Now let’s have a look at the IRB law book, http://www.irblaws.com/downloads/IRB_Laws_2013_EN.pdf . There are 216 pages in the law book with 22 Laws governing the game of rugby at senior 15 man level. 6 of the 22 laws have to do with the size of the field, the ball and officials and the like. Sixteen of the laws govern the game while being played. Should be easy to remember 16 laws one would think. That is until you notice that there are 130 sub-laws that form part of these 16 laws. Still if you have trained to be a referee 130 sub-laws isn’t bad. Do however count the rules that needs to be applied to each of these sub-laws. Suddenly 130 becomes a lot more. There is in excess of 390 rules that need to be applied during a game of 80 minutes.
Now let us look at the referee. He has to remember all these rules, watch 30 players and what they are doing all in real-time and make a decision in a split second. We as supporters, commentators and studio experts sit and watch the game with different video angles, slow motion replays and all the rest and still criticise the referee when he dares to make an error. Yes he has two Assistant referees that can help and don’t forget the TMO.
Why don’t we refer every decision to the TMO has been asked by some. Well again let us have a look at the impact that will have on the game. Let’s use the Bulls Brumbies game as an example. There were 15 penalties awarded to the bulls and 9 to the Brumbies (just wonder how Joubert’s decision benefited the Brumbies looking at that stat.) There were in the region of 25 handling errors. In the region of 150 tackles were made of which a 3rd turned into breakdowns. Add a minimum of 8 mauls and 25 line-outs. That gives you 127 decisions that had to be made minimum by Craig Joubert. The TMO decisions takes on average 1 minute to make depending on how clear the situation is. That is 127 minutes added to the 80 minutes for play and 10 minutes for the break at half time. Suddenly a game of rugby will take about +- 200 minutes to play. That is 3 hours and 20 minutes not counting the halftime break. Not ideal one would say.
I just wonder if the commentators, studio experts and we as supporters know each of the 390+ rules. I for one don’t know them all and I live for my rugby. I try and study the rules as much as possible to be able to interpret the rules and decisions by the referee better. Most commentators can’t even discern between “going of the feet” and “entering from the side”. That is even when the referee uses hand signals and you can clearly hear him say what was the infringement. Yet these commentators want to comment on the errors the referee has made.
So before we just go out and blame the referee maybe we should first learn the rules of the game ourselves.