CAPE TOWN - Springboks, brace yourself – Romain Poite will be in your hood next!
The controversial Frenchman has been appointed to handle the Boks’ Rugby Championship opener against Argentina on August 19, with the match taking place at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Poite hit the headlines over the weekend once more when he controversially changed his decision in the decisive Test between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland.
With time almost up on the clock and the scores locked at 15-15 in the series decider, Poite first awarded a penalty to New Zealand after Lions hooker Ken Owens caught the ball in an offside position following a kickoff.
Poite appeared to confirm his decision after consulting with South African assistant referee Jaco Peyper and Australian TMO George Ayoub after watching the incident on the big screen again.
But after walking across to captains Kieran Read and Sam Warburton, Poite suddenly changed his mind and ruled that it was accidental offside, and awarded a scrum instead to the All Blacks. Read was incensed, but there was no changing the Frenchman’s mind again, and the match ended in a draw.
The Boks have borne the brunt of Poite’s bad side previously – in 2013, Bismarck du Plessis was given a yellow card despite a legal tackle on Dan Carter, and the South Africans lost that game 29-15 after Du Plessis received a second yellow card early in the second half for using his elbow in trying to hand-off Liam Messam.
It led to a public outcry, and the then-International Rugby Board published a statement afterwards admitting that Poite had made a mistake in dishing out a yellow card for Du Plessis’ tackle on Carter.
And Poite won’t be the only French referee that the Boks have to deal with during the Rugby Championship. Pascal Gauzere will take charge of the return game against Argentina in Salta, while Jerome Garces will have the whistle for the big clash against the All Blacks at Newlands on October 7.
Referees For Rugby Championship
Sydney: Australia v New Zealand – Jerome Garces (France)
Port Elizabeth: South Africa v Argentina (5.05pm) – Romain Poite (France)
Dunedin: New Zealand v Australia – Wayne Barnes (England)
Salta: Argentina v South Africa (9.40pm) – Pascal Gauzere (France)
New Plymouth: New Zealand v Argentina – Angus Gardner (Australia)
Perth: Australia v South Africa (12.05pm) – Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Albany: New Zealand v South Africa (9.35am) – Nigel Owens (Wales)
Canberra: Australia v Argentina – John Lacey (Ireland)
Bloemfontein: South Africa v Australia (5.05pm) – Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) Buenos Aires: Argentina v New Zealand – Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Cape Town: South Africa v New Zealand (5.05pm) – Jerome Garces (France)
Mendoza: Argentina v Australia – Mathieu Raynal (France)