Gary Gold, coach of the Sharks during the 2016 Super Rugby Sharks press conference in Kings Park Stadium Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal on 10 March 2016©Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix

Durban –There was more to the spat between Sharks boss Gary Gold and Saru referee/TMO Johan Greeff during and after last week’s Super Rugby match at Kings Park than meets the eye.

Greeef, last year’s chairman of the Blue Bulls referees Association, invoked the wrath of the Sharks last season when he made two clear blunders in a spiteful match between his home side, the Bulls, and the Sharks, both of them at the cost of the Sharks.

Against the Crusaders last weekend, Greeff made three TMO calls in favour of the Crusaders, resulting in two tries for the visitors and a disallowed try for the Sharks.

Gold clearly has painful memories of the alleged mistakes at Loftus Versfeld and could not believe that history was repeating itself. He twice could not contain his emotions and burst into the TMO box that neighbours the coaches' box at Kings Park (in the 65th and 71 minutes).

Perhaps the TMO box should be moved to another part of the stadium ... It is too close to the coaches for comfort ...

It is understood that Gold used words such as “incompetent” and “cheat” in the same sentence, and the aggrieved Greeff reported the coach to governing body Sanzaar, who had Gold on the carpet yesterday morning for a tele-conference Judicial Hearing.

Chairman Nigel Hampton QC (New Zealand) found Gold guilty of misconduct, a charge to which he had pleaded guilty. Gold also admitted to two breaches of the Super Rugby Competition Rules, by engaging with the Television Match Official (TMO).

Gold was found guilty of using “crude and insulting language” toward the Match Official.

Hampton confirmed that Gold should be fined A$5 000 (about R56 600) for each of the two breaches of Rule 3.8 (7) as permitted under competition rules (a total of A$10 000) and a further A$5 000 for the Sanzaar Code of Conduct breach, of which A$2 500 is to be suspended for a 12-month period.

Gold was formally reprimanded, issued with a warning as to the likely consequences of further unacceptable behaviour, and told that any further Code of Conduct breach within 12 months would result in the suspended A$2 500 becoming immediately payable. He was also ordered to pay Sanzaar costs of A$1 000.

Gold has unreservedly apologised for his behaviour to Greeff, and agreed that this type of behaviour has no place in the game. It is understood, though, that Greeff is not expecting a Christmas card from Gold any time soon.

In that match against the Bulls last year, the Sharks were undoubtedly shafted by blundering Greeff, notably by his recommendation that Jesse Kriel’s pass to try-scorer Francois Hougaard had not gone forward. At that stage of the match, the Bulls were leading just 9-6 after 25 minutes.

Sharks fullback SP Marais was then denied a try in the 65th minute, with the Bulls leading 33-29, when Odwa Ndungane was ruled to have knocked on while contesting for the ball in the air.

Gold was livid with Greeff at the time but held his tongue.

This time, he could not ...

In the press conference after the Crusaders match, won 19-14 by the New Zealanders, Gold was visibly fuming. He was asked:”Are you happy with the decisions made by the TMO?”

He answered: “No, I am not.”

He was then asked: “Can you elaborate or are you going to bite your tongue?”

Gold retorted: “It is not a question of biting my tongue. It is a case of me having better things to do with my time and energy than waste them talking about something I cannot change. I would rather use my energy positively by working with the players on our shortcomings on the training field. That would be far more productive.”

Not to mention not as financially costly. The fines meted out to Gold are hefty indeed. - The Star