Rassie forgets rugby Law 0.0 ‘all things in rugby are okay as long as the ref misses it!’

I may be cynical with the following views but this has been my rugby experience from player to referee over a 30-year career. Coaches spend their life devoted to finding and perfecting the impurities of the game to gain an advantage in the continual contest for the ball in what we call the game of […]

Rassie forgets rugby Law 0.0 ‘all things in rugby are okay as long as the ref misses it!’

I may be cynical with the following views but this has been my rugby experience from player to referee over a 30-year career.

Coaches spend their life devoted to finding and perfecting the impurities of the game to gain an advantage in the continual contest for the ball in what we call the game of rugby.

Referees as the custodians of the laws of the game are in continual pursuit of the perfect game where all players comply with the laws and the referee has a penalty count of 0 for both halves.

Both the referee and the coach are in pursuit of utopia. This can never be achieved.

Rugby is a game of infractions, breaking rules, and improvising as a team strives to achieve a goal. The nature of this 80-minute endeavor results in approximately 100 tackle/rucks, 20 lineouts, 10 scrums, and 18 penalties at Test level on a perfect day. Even games usually mean even numbers of meanderings across the line of law. Terrific games are where two different styles of play (infractions) counteract each other to give a very close result.

The challenge for the referee is to find the melody in this unstructured song. Should they employ a totally analytical approach and identify every error in law, the game will lose its sort after flow and the game becomes a total bore and all be lost to lawn bowls or a similar more exciting sport than an 80-penalty game of rugby.

World Rugby has always and continually challenged with this and uses the concept of advantage, to allow a team to continue on after an infringement, to play as they wish, and that the penalty will be retired once time, tactical or positional advantage has been accrued in the “view of the referee” in real-time during the game. Referees think about this a lot. By considering the type of advantage, field position, and competition (physical) between the teams. All done with a heart rate in the 120s plus fighting dehydration and asphyxiation.

The other concept they use is a material effect. Where penalty infringements with little, if any impact on the game is largely ignored so play can continue. After the first 20 games of refereeing rugby, this becomes the challenge of a lifetime for all referees, and it will never leave them until they hang their boots up. In short, this is difficult to perceive in real-time and get correct. Everybody will assess it after the fact with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

Nic Berry’s efforts in the South Africa-British & Irish Lions First Test were pretty good in almost all areas of the game given the impossibility of the task. Test Matches are by definition a tough test for everybody otherwise they would be known as “Easy Matches!”

When two highly skilled teams battle at the edges of adjudication of the laws of the game you should expect a less than perfect result. Great players manage the seemingly impossible in the “in-close” parts of the game to gain that slightest advantage which may result in points on the board in a phase or threes time. The only solution is to outplay the other team within the referee’s acceptable levels of the game.

(Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images)

To be objective, this Lions team has a keenness to test the envelope of the referee’s threshold of where the penalty is awarded, and they adjusted accordingly. The Boks do this well enough, but on the night, they were outperformed, and to be fair they needed to change their game plan to win for which they did not.

However, Rassie Erasmus has made some valid points for which I glossed over as a spectator of reasonable rugby knowledge that is worthy of a circle the wagons in the referee world.

The high tackle framework was not adhered to in the game the TMO needed to call the “Check-Check” call to advise Berry of the high tackles. Rassie, identified the two that impacted his team which needed to have been applied and two yellow cards awarded as a minimum but Red Cards have been awarded for less. In fact, World Rugby framework clearly shows a similar action and declares it red as a no-malicious but high dangerous lifting tackle. This is the key work of the TMO and Berry was let down over this.

If he had issued a red, then the whinge would still come but be slightly different. We all know he can never win at his chosen game of refereeing.

Possibly the other more disturbing was the on-field style of the way SA captain and the Lions captain interacted with the team of three. Assistant referees have no place in dealing with questions of adjudication of the on-field with the captains. It is a very bad look to have ushered SA captain away while still allowing the Lions to remain. This displays as unconscious bias and needs to be corrected as fans will react negatively at the sight of this regardless of the actual intent.

In the wash-up, the team of three’s performance was adequate but with areas to work on. I feel this behind doors stuff is poor for the game as much as Rassie’s rant. I only hope we can be more open with referees and coaches having their pregame meetings televised to allow for the mysteries of the beautiful game to be dispensed with.

Even with a performance report as a numerical scale format to allow the conjecture to settle and be averaged out over multiple Tests and multiple referees.

The rugby commentator and professional journalist also carry a special responsibility to ensure that they manage the hysteria with fact.

Source : The Roar More   

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Has Rassie’s ‘Kool-Aid’ gone stale?

The social media spat between the two camps head honchos: Warren Gatland and Rassie Erasmus was decisively won by Gats, which gives the Lions first blood in this unusual Lions Test series. Willie le Roux’s disallowed try and Hamish Watson’s unpunished yellow card tip-tackle engineered a 7+ point swing that ended up a bridge too […]

Has Rassie’s ‘Kool-Aid’ gone stale?

The social media spat between the two camps head honchos: Warren Gatland and Rassie Erasmus was decisively won by Gats, which gives the Lions first blood in this unusual Lions Test series.

Willie le Roux’s disallowed try and Hamish Watson’s unpunished yellow card tip-tackle engineered a 7+ point swing that ended up a bridge too far for the brave but decidedly undercooked Springboks.

The pressure Warren placed on the match officials by throwing his toys out the cot in a tantrum about the match officials worked a charm and was cleverly leveraged by the streetwise Wyn-Jones on the field which gave the Lions first blood in this enthralling chess-like series.

Round one to Gatland’s troops but kudos to Rassie and his men to take it on the chin without any excuses to congratulate the victors and slink off to lick their wounded egos and plot their revenge, which is very much in the pipeline.

After getting the rub of the green during most of the ’19 WC campaign; it seems the tide has started turning against Rassie’s charm offences and that his “Kool-Aid” has passed it sell by date. It is important however to remember that this is but the first act in a three-part drama unfolding on our screens.

What a fascinating match to watch as it ebb and flowed. The Lions’ unexpectedly disjointed opening stanza against a well oiled Bok machine circa ’19, just for the momentum to slowly swing as the undercooked Handré Pollard tried and missed two kicks to leave five additional points on the table, on top of the officials’ blunders.

As the game went on, his and Faf de Klerk’s pinpoint kicking game started fraying; causing a ripple of butter fingers and brain fades from the Boks that proved their ultimate undoing a rugby drama for the purists.

The Lions game plan finally started bearing fruit as the vaunted Bok “bomb squad” turned into a damp fizzle with their introduction suddenly giving the Lions pack the upper hand on the gain line to transfer the pressure onto the Boks.

This was typified by the highly active but totally unproductive Quagga Smith’s outing. How the Boks missed the steadying, assured ironman presence of Duane Vermeulen.

For the bomb squad concept to work, it has to fire on all cylinders. I personally think that the two years from the big stage have pushed Frans Malherbe way past his sell by date; from being ever present in the broken phases and on defence; he was nowhere to be seen on Saturday.

The back line bench was introduced into a losing cause but didn’t cover themselves in any glory; both the Jantjie’s folded under the pressure.

On the Lions side, I was impressed with the leadership and assured presence of Wyn-Jones and the effervescence of Ali Price at nine while Duhan Van der Merwe gave an assured display and Anthony Watson always threatened with ball in hand.

Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes made hay because of the absence of Duane Vermeulen in the broken phases. Sadly the Elliot Daly experiment was an abject failure outside a rusty Robbie Henshaw, with changes surely coming for the second Test.

Elliot Daly is a surprise Lions selection for some. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

I’d bring back the assured Liam Williams at 15 and team Josh Adams with van der Merwe. I’d replace Dan Biggar, who was battered a bit, with Owen Farrell and bring Harris in for Daly.

Henshaw will be better after his first real outing in a while and Harris could provide the missing link to unleash Adams and van der Merwe.

In the forwards I’d start Owens and bring a bit more bulk in with Faletau for Conan; the Bok pack has been wounded so they will have to weather the coming storm…

On the Bok side; I’d drop Malherbe and Quagga Smith from the squad completely and start with Kitshoff. Francois Louw’s influence in securing late turnover ball is sorely missed and I’ll bring Marco van Staden onto the bench and lastly promote Jasper Wiese to start at eight for more go forward and solid defence.

At the back; I’ll introduce Reinach as a wild card game breaker from the bench and Frans Steyn’s assured presence to back up Pollard with Jessie Kriel to cover the outside back positions.

One thing is for sure; whichever way the two head Mandarins choose to spin act two of this three part drama; the physicality and intensity will be a ratcheted up from last week and it promises to be a titanic clash.

Fascinating stuff, this game of Test-playing chess, isn’t it?

Source : The Roar More   

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