IOL Sport rugby writer Wynona Louw.
Maybe Sanzaar should try sorting out its own mess instead of fining players for speaking up.

At the weekend, it was reported that the southern hemisphere governing body had made contact with the Bulls, informing the franchise they had looked into hooker Schalk Brits’s comments and that a decision had been made to charge him for bringing Super Rugby and the governing body into disrepute.

Brits could face a fine of up to R100000 for questioning Sanzaar’s judicial system.

Earlier this season, Brits was hit with a four-game suspension after his appeal failed following a Sanzaar ban for a red card received for an altercation with Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe  who got three weeks even though he was the instigator.

Before their home game against the Crusaders last week, Brits said: “I think there needs to be changes made as to how they apply the rules.

“Sometimes you feel, ‘How can a guy in Australia get two weeks and a guy in South Africa get four weeks?’ As a rugby player I feel that we get the short end of the stick a lot of times in South Africa. I really think they need to reassess the process.

“You are penalising me for a record that I got four years ago. Do I think that is fair? Maybe not but it happened and I can’t do anything about it now.

“But I did ask them to have a proper look at it. Rugby is a fair game, and if you look at the incident from beginning to the end their outcome should not have been what it was, but I made peace with it quickly.”

While Brits is guilty of breaching the competition’s code of conduct, as players and coaches can’t criticise the decisions of match-day and/or disciplinary officials, with all the dubious, and sometimes downright poor officiating and sanctions we see all too often in Super Rugby, it’s only natural that it’s a part of the game that would frustrate players and coaches.

Sure, there are channels to follow, and while Sanzaar are probably within their rights to take action against Brits for publicly voicing his opinion, his remarks should also serve as a wake-up call to the governing body.

The performances of referees have for years been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. And while the problem is not unique to the southern hemisphere competition, it is high time that the performances and calls of referees, and by extension the judicial committee, get assessed just like the actions of the players.

Brits may have taken the wrong route by publicly addressing the issue, but his points were valid.

And the validity thereof is what Sanzaar should be focusing on, not the fact that he’s brought them into “disrepute”.

After all, some of the on-field actions we’ve seen from referees have done enough of that on their own.

@WynonaLouw


Cape Times

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