Durban - World Rugby’s silence in the wake of Australian coach Dave Rennie’s vehement criticism of the match officials after his team’s loss to Wales at the weekend is deafening.
It is now exactly a week since the governing body threw the book at Rassie Erasmus for his video assassination of the refereeing of Nick Berry and his assistants in the first Test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions, sending out an emphatic warning that public criticism of referees will not be tolerated, so why is it okay for Rennie to describe the officiating in Cardiff as “horrendous”?
Erasmus and his SA Rugby employers can be forgiven for thinking they are suffering from a persecution complex if World Rugby turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to Rennie insinuating in a post-match press conference that the officials had cost the Wallabies the game.
The highly irate Rennie castigated the officials and the only difference between his tirade and Erasmus transgression is that one is verbal and the other via video and that Erasmus took over an hour to make his point and Rennie five minutes, but their message is exactly the same.
The truth of the matter is that both Rennie and Erasmus were correct in their criticism but that is beside the point...
The Wallabies had also lost at Murrayfield the week before largely because of a poor decision by TMO Marius Jonker — for which an apology was later issued by World Rugby— and the Australians were robbed again at the Principality Stadium because of more refereeing howlers, again involving TMO Jonker.
One of them came when the Welsh centre slapped the ball down and then gathered and scored but, ludicrously, it was ruled that it was okay because the ball went backward from the slap!
The fuming Rennie said: “If we’re going to have a TMO, there’s no excuse for not getting the decision right, and we saw another example of that tonight.
“Everyone’s accountable – or they should be. We’re accountable as players and coaches, and we’ve got to make sure officials are also accountable.
“Marius’s decision a couple of weeks ago ( in the Scotland match) decided the game, and yet he was appointed again. There isn’t any accountability around guys who are making errors that are deciding Test matches. The reason the TMO was brought into the game was to get the right decision.
“After the Scotland game, Marius’s decision to sin-bin Allan Alaalatoa, we were told, was the wrong decision, it wasn’t a yellow card. These are big moments, and getting an apology later is not good enough.”
“There were a lot of decisions today that I’m not going into which I felt had a massive bearing on the game,” he added.
Interestingly, Jonker was also the TMO in Rassie’s Nick Berry video, so there is a common denominator but, so far, that is where the similarities in the cases end because while Rassie has been suspended, Rennie has not so much as been cautioned.
Surely what is good for the goose is good for the gander and World Rugby's reputation for inconsistency is being further tarnished.