South African rugby fans were furious on Saturday when during a Rugby Championship match against New Zealand, a key player was carded for an illegal tackle. The tackle made by South African Bismarck du Plessis on All Blacks fly half Dan Carter was clearly legitimate; the referee and rugby governing bodies have all acknowledge the mistake as “human error”. But what impact does poor refereeing have on high stakes games like this in rugby?
The tackle was hard. It was spectacular. Carter went down like a ton of bricks, landing awkwardly on his shoulder and needing to go off. Such is the nature of a contact sport. Not only was the Springbok penalized, he was given a yellow card, which put South Africa onto the back foot at the 17th minute – far too early in the game for any deciding factors.
But rugby is not a sport left to only one man. Technology and assistants on the field are available to the referee. So why is it ignored? Looking at replays, it is clear the tackle was clean but the referee ignored the help of technology.
The most spoken about man in the match was the referee. And it’s not the first time. Spectators are getting sick of the game being decided not by talent but by the heavy influence of a referee – a farce considering technology is available to ensure the games are fair!
While spectators can handle supporting a losing team, they cannot handle supporting a team with no chance at a fair battle on account of poor governing. Conspiracy theorists will wonder whether it is just incompetence or whether something more sinister is at play.
It’s impossible to say whether South Africa would have won the game if a different referee was in charge – the modest Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said his team’s performance was simply not good enough. Of course, a captain is legally not allowed to complain about the refereeing – it’s in the rules! But spectators want to see fair games, good match ups and support, bet on mobile casinos and at bookies and get behind their team.
With poor refereeing, no one wins. The All Blacks got the points (29-15) but not the win. Everyone lost something in this game. Most of all, the game itself is losing.