- Red Bull Chronicles
- Horse racing
- More Sports
Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney was bordering on a debacle - and it wasn't the fault of the players.
Sure, the numerous mistakes didn't help the marquee match become the free-flowing spectactle most of us would have wanted to see.
But I can't be the only one who wanted to shove referee Alain Rolland's whistle where the sun doesn't shine.
I'm never slow to put the blame on referees, and Rolland had a shocker in terms of allowing the game to flow.
But a large part of that fault lies with the IRB whose almost continual mucking around with the laws of the game often leave spectators confused and players angry.
Rolland was the referee who sent off Wales captain Sam Warburton in the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup last year - a decision which, while correct, looked harsh at the time and drew criticism.
The problem was the IRB had drawn the line in the sand - any kind of spear tackle was a red card and Warburton had to go - and if Rolland hadn't obliged it would have been him on the sidelines.
(In hindsight, this may not have been a bad result given Saturday night.)
Forget the fact it ruined the semi-final as a contest and arguably deprived the public of a much greater final between Wales and the All Blacks - this was about the IRB making a statement.
The laws of the scrum continue to be farcical and there was barely a scrum on Saturday night that Rolland didn't penalise.
Who actually thinks it's a good idea to make 900kgs of testosterone-loaded forwards crouch, touch, pause (still paused, still paused, still paused...) engage?
It's like trying to hold back a runaway truck and often ends up with props going straight down.
Which is another one of the problems - with 900kgs pushing against each other if the hit isn't absolutely straight one thing will happen - someone will go to ground.
This has led to referees guessing which teams to penalise when a scrum goes down - often it appears just whose turn it is next gets whistled.
When a scrum is being monstered and deliberately brought down, or when a prop clearly folds in then penalise it.
But where's the advantage in a prop's hand touching the ground and bouncing straight back to a bind?
Of course, it wasn't all the IRB's fault - some of Rolland's calls were mystifying.
When Nathan Sharpe stepped across in a lineout blocking the All Blacks, Kieran Read was penalised.
And when the All Blacks absolutely monstered an Aussie who had just caught the ball in the second half and went right over him and claimed the pill they were penalised.
David Pocock, who has been called better than Richie McCaw by quite a few across the Tasman and was shown up on Saturday night, also escaped numerous times when a yellow card could have been awarded, either for constant infringement or for professional fouls.
Should I be this annoyed? After all, the All Blacks still won the game, denying the Wallabies a bonus point and moving Robbie Deans a step closer to the boot.
Yes, because one of the greatest rivalries in rugby was turned from a contest into a whisle-blowing competition that let us know little about either team.It's time for the IRB to get a hold on the laws, simplify them and allow the game to flow. Without it I won't be the only one turning off in the future.