IRB, not Rolland, to blame for debacle

Mike Kilpatrick, Yahoo! New Zealand Sport August 20, 2012, 1:42 pm

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.

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  1. Greg09:10am Tuesday 21st August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Its not the bad calls that pissed me off it the fact that the calls were made in the first place.... I've never seen a ref have so much influence on a games flow.... Get a SA ref, at least they understand a good game of Rugby!

  2. Richard03:24am Tuesday 21st August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    I have lost intrest in rugby, it is not as good as it used to be, the stadiums are not being filled up. so i guess im not the only one who lost intrest, to many laws govern the game and that ruins such a great sport. if rugby keeps losing it's appeal in years to come it will go under.

  3. Eddie08:56pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    IRB is trying to turn this CONTACT sport into OSH . Too many rules, too complicated, too hard to follow!!! What a useless spectator sport when ONLY and ONLY the referee knows ONLY some of the rules and has to "Interpretate" or make them up as they go along. NO consistency as the rules keep changing every season as they try to tweak the shambles into some sort of a real sport with some skill and flair. Thank God EPL is back on !!!!!

  4. Al08:55pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Yea good call. They arent robots, each game is gunna be different.

  5. Yabby08:47pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    All biased comments aside, rugby has become an international joke, the rules change so often that even lawyers can't keep up. If the teams can't scrum uninpeded what is the point of rugby union anyway--that was intitially the whole point of the game. Who was the team that could win the ball from scrums, now it's up to the referee, who can't see what is happening anyway and the sideline referees are a wasted space as they don't seem to want to get involved unless the play has already broken down.

  6. Peter08:13pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    yeah all the bad refs calls went against the All Blacks!

  7. nick08:10pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    To anyone whose reading, I can only comment here. Yahoos top current news item is that Percy Foster, the porn star dwarf Gordan Ramsey look a like, has been found dead and half eaten by badgers. Not only was this reported by The Sun in Sept 2011 but a week later was found to be a hoax which went viral. This is bad Yahoo, who actually works there? Seriously poor 'journalism.'

  8. Greg07:35pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    You raise a good point here about the "pause". Why is there a pause before the referees say pause. Doesnt saying pause actually make a pause? The wait maybe 3 seconds before the pause before they say it. Really drives me nuts.

    2 Replies
  9. Dean07:20pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    There are actually some changes being proposed at the moment with regard to scrum engagement. I think they are going to change to "Crouch-Touch-Set". Have a look at the IRB site...there are a few other changes but not sure if they are going to help or cause more confusion!!!

    1 Reply
  10. Mark07:10pm Monday 20th August 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    I have an issue with loose head props putting their hand on the ground, in my experiance of 18 years of premier rugby it does give the loose head an advantage, in saying that it can be because the tighthead is beaten to the hit. Scrums are usually collapsed by the tighthead ,i would think 65-70% of the time. I agree that the ref had no idea who was offending but as for the other penelties around the field I thought most were justified due to players pushing boundaries. I also thought Australia had a different ruck fringe off side line than us, also a lot of fringe defenders being blown out when they were nowhere near the ball. The rule on offensive teams sealing off the ball at ruck time seems to be penilised anymore either( this is a good thing but the rulies seem to have chaged since the start of the super 15 season).

    4 Replies

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