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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.”

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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.”


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