Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

Alleged Luke Pearce apology to Jamie Ritchie ignites Twitter debate

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A claim that referee Luke Pearce apologised to Jamie Ritchie for punishing his backchat during last Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland has ignited quite a debate on Twitter. The beaten Scottish skipper was penalised for the second successive game, Pearce admonishing him early in the second half: “You can’t question decisions in my face like that.”


A social media comment posted during the BT Murrayfield match about this piqued the interest post-match of Jim Hamilton, the retired Scotland lock.

It was suggested: “If you’re a Scotland fan it might be of mild concern that captain Jamie Ritchie has been marched back 10 metres against both France and Ireland for giving lip to the ref. Captains usually receive leeway, but these last two games Nika Amushakeli and Luke Pearce have said he has crossed a line.”

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

Hamilton didn’t agree, posting: “Luke Pearce apologised to him after the game.” That revelation prompted numerous rugby fans to get involved in a lively debate. Here is a cross-section of what was said in the thread:

“Getting tired of Luke apologising for this. Apologising means you don’t intend to do it again. He marched Jamie back twice against Ireland after saying he regretted doing it to Billy V on your podcast. I’m sorry but I don’t believe him!”

“Pearce out of his depth – refereed the game like he already knew Ireland were going to win. At a time when we are trying to grow the game and there are more eyes than ever (Netflix), the standard of officiating has to be better. Italy-Wales game was the same.”

“There was nothing to apologise for. Bitching at refs has to stop and refs should be marching players for it more. The difference is that when Pearce told Ireland the next Irish player bitching at him for a YC would get one himself, the Irish players learned and stopped.”


“Pearce gave Sexton the ‘If you come to me demanding a yellow, I will give one to you instead’ speech in the first half. Frustrating that he wasn’t penalised like Ritchie though – feels like double standards.”

“Flippin heck, guys. Scotland lost because Ireland played better at key moments. It was nothing to do with refereeing decisions. He had already spoken to Ritchie about how he spoke. It was harsh but fair.”

“Second week in a row he has been marched though. Add in that Finn was marched as well. Do Scotland have an image problem with the refs at the moment and will continue to march them?”

“He’s being diplomatic, not apologising in the sense that he was mistaken. There is a big difference.”


“Did he apologise sincerely for making a bad decision or did he say something like ‘I’m sorry, but you can’t come into my face shouting’, in which case it’s not a real apology for a bad decision but an explanation of why the decision was made.”

“I can’t see the need to apologise. Ritchie got up, stomped over to him like an angry schoolboy and demanded an answer in a tone you aren’t supposed to use with referees. It is becoming a bit of a habit. Pearce had little tolerance for the Irish as well. Threatened to YC Baird.”

“Apart from not carding Hogg, I thought Luke refereed well. This is not football. Players deserved to be marched back for disrespect to refs’ decisions.”

“I know he’s a mate of the pod, Jim, but he was poor. Should have binned Hogg and maybe one more for the slapping of the ball out of the scrum-half’s hand near the line.”

“South Africans reading this thread and thinking of pots and kettles.”

“Jim, what exactly did he apologise for? I’m genuinely concerned and saddened by some of the comments here. As rugby players and supporters of the game, surely we should always respect the referee’s decision win or lose, right or wrong. As Nigel Owens would say, ‘This is not soccer’.”

“Why the hell did he apologise? If it was enough to get marched back, then Ritchie was in the wrong…becoming a habit, and Ben White is no better.

“Interesting if accurate. Truth is every game Ireland playing Sexton, POM, Biggar etc are over at the refs whining like a kid who dropped their toffee apple, so there really needs to be guidance on what constitutes being marched 10.”


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


May 488 days ago

As captain Jamie is entitled to ask for clarification and ref had a strop and marched Scotland back 10m as he wasn't prepared to say why. Brings his decision into question, is he unable to justify the penalty.

matt. 492 days ago

Ireland learnt when warned once, Scotland sadly didn't. Van Der merew tackle for first Irish try was no arms. That went unpunished, hogg leaning over the ruck should have been a card also, without leaning on the ruck he never got the ball.
It's a shame Scotland lost but Ireland were better on the day.

A Fine 492 days ago

Pearce is OK. If I had a quibble it is that he talks too much to the players. Gets into conversations. He's the ref, he's not a buddy!

matt 492 days ago

A) I don’t like Pearce doing this, because either 1) he’s losing his cool in games and punishing players or 2) he’s apologizing for doing his job; it’s not a popularity contest and refs should do this much more. C) they should also be marching 9s back for taking the ball when the penalty is obviously against them. First one should be 10, second should be a card. You’re telling me a pro player can’t look at the ref and recognize who’s penalty it is

2) Ritchie does have to work on his interactions, they seem very confrontational. McCaw was the best at this. Questioned accepted moved on. Players nowadays seem to be trying to intimidate the ref.

Rob 492 days ago

During the France game after gilchrist received his red card I heard Ritchie arguing with the ref saying “if one of their players hits me in the head do they get a card?!”. Or something similar to that effect, he seems to be an able leader on the field but lacks the subtle communication skills other good captains have had in the past. If he’s going up and arguing like that on every point there’s no wonder he was getting his team marched back.
It’s also just as easy for Irish fans to question the refereeing performance as it is for Scottish fans. Pearce wouldn’t ref the rucks for most of the game and ignored infringements from both teams, the Scottish being a bit more blatant certainly near their line. He didn’t cover himself in glory to say the least.

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

34 Go to comments
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

34 Go to comments
FEATURE ‘Original Captain America’ Madison Hughes ready for one last Olympic shot ‘Original Captain America’ Madison Hughes ready for one last Olympic shot