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A tale of wrong referees and unfair advantage


Spiro Zavos

TOM Keneally, wordsmith, describes the hype before big matches as the foreplay. Not unexpectedly, the qualifying finals between the Crusaders and Bulls and the Reds and Sharks have generated intense discussion. We've had accusations that the Reds shouldn't have their home-ground advantage. There has been heated discussion about the appointing of South African referees to officiate at the two finals. And rows over whether the often non-tackling Quade Cooper deserved his week's suspension for a dangerous tackle on Berrick Barnes. My short answer is: no.

SANZAR makes a valid point that the winning conference team having a home-ground advantage in the finals is the natural outcome of having a tournament played in three countries. To maintain an interest in the finals in all three countries each conference needs to be guaranteed one home match final. The system does this. I think, though, it should be tweaked to allow the grand final to be played at the home ground of the team that has won the most points in the pool rounds. There is the possibility (admittedly remote) that the Reds and the Crusaders could meet in the final. This would be played at Brisbane. Fairness requires it should be played at Christchurch. The Crusaders finished higher on the points table than the Reds.

I wouldn't hold my breath about SANZAR making this reasonable change. For, on another important matter involving fairness, SANZAR has failed miserably. I am talking about the appointment of the referees for tonight's matches. Jonathan Kaplan is refereeing the Reds-Sharks match and Jaco Peyper is refereeing the Crusaders-Bulls match. Kaplan and Peyper are South Africans. It is not acceptable for the integrity of the finals matches, nor is it fair to the referees that they be placed in the situation where allegations of "home country decisions" can be raised.

SANZAR's game manager Lyndon Bray, a New Zealander and a former excellent referee, has stated that these appointments fulfil three key criteria - overall performance throughout the tournament, accuracy in the big calls and "the right fit for the game". I don't buy this argument. It overlooks the protocol (except in Super Rugby) that neutrals should referee big matches. Kaplan, also, is past his best. Why is Craig Joubert, South Africa's best referee and referee in the 2011 RWC final, not officiating rather than running the sideline as an assistant referee?

The assertion that Peyper is the "right fit" for the Crusaders-Bulls finals is even more ludicrous. Peyper is promising but overrated. He was the referee at Pretoria when two Bulls alleged they were eye-gouged by Crusaders players. Not a shred of evidence was brought forward to justify the allegations. SANZAR has white-washed some unacceptable gamesmanship by the Bulls. The allegations came when the Crusaders were well on top in the match. After the allegations, the tide of the game changed. On the back of eight successful penalties out of 10 attempts kicked by Morne Steyn, the Bulls won 32-30. There was also a controversial and wrong shepherding decision by Peyper (on advice of an assistant referee) overruling a Crusaders try near the end.

We come back to Tom Keneally to explain why SANZAR just doesn't get it with its policy against neutral referees. The great Sea Eagles tragic, told the Herald in relation to the big Manly-Canterbury match: "I'm as irrational as anyone when it comes to supporting my footy team - I seem to naturally have it in for the referees." The point is that the referees are not biased, the supporters are. SANZAR is pouring oil on a fire by having nationals refereeing sides from their own country in the finals.

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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