By Harry Abbott – The Bath Chronicle
Sydney, April 05, 2014
I feel for Paul James and the frustration of all front rowers at the moment, being penalized randomly and inconsistently. Referees could not possibly and Conclusively know WHO IS AT FAULT when a scrum collapses. The only person that knows is done something illegal is the player himself/herself (may be the opposite number could have an educated guess but still Not Conclusive, your Honour!)
Talking with the referee or asking questions during or even after the game is pointless (unless you are the captain and you are pretty sure yourself that you are on the right). These days of professional rugby where top referees are well paid, there is so much “face saving posturing” that they will never admit anything in public.
Referees are also instructed or indoctrinated with the preconceived idea that players and coaches are cheats or will cheat. The excessive authority bestowed upon them, combined with an archaic and painful LAW completely overcomplicated with technical detail/minutiae makes the referee’s job impossible and imperfect. Nevertheless, as somebody has to pay, a penalty is raffled whichever way!
A SET OF SOLUTIONS:
Referees need to be helped to do a consistent, efficient and effective officiating of rugby matches.
My humble suggestions are:
a) Overhauling the rugby Law to be modernized into 2014.
b) The Scrum Law must be simplified (i.e. OUTCOMES over PROCESS)
c) The Scrum Engagement Sequence must be 2 steps only: CROUCH and PACK (Refs to leave the ball and half-back alone)
d) Referees and Administrators need to understand that the job of officiating is about “ENABLING” the game, not policing, not managing, not coaching.
The frustrations experienced by the players and coaches are now finding a huge echo from the public and the media. Rugby is a very complex sport and if the IRB doesn’t simplify it (to a certain extent) it will be an uphill battle to convince people to follow it and pay the prices asked for match tickets, merchandise, etc. (the exodus has already started down under)
Of course we know well that between the UK, Ireland and France rugby has an enormous following and so does football in England. Don’t worry, just leave the rest of the world to the real football and other sports. In this era of hyper information on the palm of your hand, people are now accustomed to understand and ask questions such as: What was that for Ref?