Egon Seconds was widely criticized for his handling of the Stormers-Lions match at Newlands. Photo: Chris Ricco / BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Why are referees still considered untouchable? Just as players get punished for wrongdoing, they should too.

How many times has a ridiculous, forget dubious, call from an official ruined a game? We see it week in and week out in Super Rugby. It’s the one thing you can be sure of. If the ones in charge of the whistle don’t get a call wrong, they miss an action that would warrant a penalty - or worse - entirely.

You can’t always get every single call right. And you’re not always going to see every single thing. Even referees are human!

But some blunders are inexcusable. And in recent history, there have been many, many mistakes that have ruined big matches.

Romain Poite changing a kickable penalty for the All Blacks to a scrum in the final Test against the British & Irish Lions, which ended in a 15-15 draw and the series being shared 1-1.

Referee Roman Poite talks to New Zealand captain Kieran Read during theTest against the British and Irish Lions. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker
Referee Roman Poite talks to New Zealand captain Kieran Read during theTest against the British and Irish Lions. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker

Wayne Barnes’ forward-pass howler involving the French in 2007 which led to the All Blacks’ earliest World Cup exit.

Craig Joubert erroneously awarding the Wallabies a late penalty against Scotland at the 2015 World Cup, which saw Australia win 35-34 after Bernard Foley kicked a penalty that should have been a scrum feed.

The Bismarck du Plessis yellow-card fiasco.

So we could go on and on.

This past weekend, for example, Blues fullback Melani Nanai elbowed the Stormers’ Dillyn Leyds in the face, and even though referee Nick Briant was in close proximity, the Kiwi official did absolutely nothing. That’s a red card every day of the week.

Surely something needs to be done? Not just by Sanzaar, but by World Rugby as well.

A demerit system for referees, while it sounds drastic, could help curb the way-too-high rate of these all-too-common mistakes

This could entail teams being allowed to lodge a complaint to the governing body about a call, or an oversight, they believe led to a try or penalty.

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The complaint should be laid following teams’ post-match analysis, with the merit of that complaint being assessed on the Monday after the weekend’s game, for example. A negative point should be given to a referee if it’s found that his call did in fact influence the game in such a way, and after say a third negative in one season, that official should receive a two or three match suspension.

Again, it might sound drastic, but how else is it going to stop.

Yeah, referees have a tough job. But if players are held accountable for their actions and wrongdoings, why shouldn’t referees be subjected to the same treatment.

A system like that would also decrease room for bias. And we can all do without bias and blunders from the referees.

@WynonaLouw


Cape Times

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