Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

Boks fans and even a former player go after Luke Pearce in wake of loss

By Ian Cameron
Referee Luke Pearce talks to Siya Kolisi of the Springboks during the Rugby Championship match between the South Africa Springboks and the Australian Wallabies at Cbus Super Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Despite what many neutrals saw as an exceptional refereeing performance – Springboks fans and even a former player have gone after Luke Pearce in the wake of their shock defeat to the All Blacks in Johannesburg on Saturday.


Ian Foster’s New Zealand ran out 35-23 victors over the Boks in the second of their two games on South African soil.

It’s a win that few predicted after a display of dominance from the hosts a week earlier and it hasn’t gone down well with SA fans – who have sought to scapegoat Pearce for the loss.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

Even former Springboks were getting in on the act, with Breyton Paulse posting: “The Boks certainly didnt deserve to win tonight but the ref made some really bad calls at critical times that took our oemf away, not good at all!!”

Dylan Jack wrote: “Luke Pearce yellow carded Willemse for a first cynical infringement. Now he’s giving warnings to the All Blacks for cynically collapsing the Bok maul.”

And there were plenty more in that vein:


The complaints from South African fans were in stark contrast to neutrals, who widely lauded a superb performance from the Gallagher Premiership whistler.

RugbyPass’ Ben Smith wryly noted: “I, for one, am disappointed Luke Pearce missed 25 tackles out there on the field. Someone, somewhere, should do something about that.”

Respected Australian journalist Christy Doran noted: “Luke Pearce’s officiating of last night’s Springboks- All Blacks Test was superb. Well done. Clear, concise and wanting the game to be played at speed. Great Test. The Rugby Championship is alive. Great drama about this year’s tournament.”

Journalist Steffan Thomas wrote: “I personally thought Luke Pearce was flawless. Can’t think of a single decision he got wrong. Top class performance.”


Squidge Rugby observed how Pearce – like Nigel Owens before him – is nearly always involved in exceptionally good matches: “If you’re ever trying to figure out which fixtures will be absolute bangers, it’s easier to just search for matches Luke Pearce is refereeing than check which teams are playing.”

South African journalist Brendan Nel wrote that: “I didn’t have an issue with Luke Pearce’s reffing. I may have disagreed with a few decisions, but nothing major. Telling point was the obstruction – we didn’t have a great angle on the big screen, so want to watch that again before commenting” and later “Sorry, won’t jump on the bash the ref bandwagon. Definitely didn’t get the rub of the green but the Boks lost 4 lineouts on their own throw, they were poor defensively. The bomb squad backfired through injury and we were left with just one option for the aerial battle.”

Newcastle Falcons media manager Mark Smith Tweeted that Pearce’s performance was top draw: “Man of the match: Luke Pearce. Refereeing masterclass.”

Former Northampton Saints’ lock and now head of player affairs at the RPA Christian Day observed: “Enjoyed that first half. NZ looking a lot more like the All Blacks. SA back into it though just before HT and looking like they have solidified the set piece with an early change or two. Luke Pearce communicates very well and keeping the pace of game high.”

Pearce – at just 34 – is widely seen as one of the best referees in the world, and his performance in Ellis Park yesterday will only further that reputation, despite what some South African fans might say.


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


John 670 days ago

The ref was shocking. I switched off after the Mapimpi try was disallowed. So obvious the ref was cheating. As for 'neutrals', we have english (ref) and New Zealanders (beneficiaries) saying he was great. Hard to find anyone else.

Ian 673 days ago

What a load f moaners

Bryan 673 days ago

There were foibles from the ref for both teams.
He missed a couple of forward passes between Boks forwards, in both halves, and seemed to allow the SA backs to be slightly offside (like last week) for many defensive manoeuvres. He also allowed the Bokke forwards to go across rucks, off their feet too often, especially later on.
Overall though, I believe it was the best reffing performance involving the ABs this year so far.
Top notch Mr. Pearce.

Drew 674 days ago

Everyone loves bashing the Boks and saying how arrogant Bok fans are. What a negative clickbait style article to post on this website, clearly posted to wind people up and provoke a reaction. Congratulations on being a low class journalist.

Drew 674 days ago

I think the yellow in the first few minutes was exceptionally harsh. Anyone who thinks that was clearly a cynical action is seriously one eyed. Thats what started the Saffa fans looking at the ref. Besides that the ref denied a try to Lukhanyo Am after a clear Sam Whitelock rip, which he then called a knock on. The call on Jayden Hendricks obstruction was right but unlucky. The 6’6 Kiwi lock really struggled to handle the bump from the 5ft9 Bok scrumhalf. It changed the game from a 2 point game to a 10 point game. But dont gimme this “neutral” observers kuk. Show me a Kiwi, Ozzie or Brit who wanted the boks to win and I will show you a liar.

Ruby 674 days ago

The only obvious call he got wrong was when he didn't give one of the Boks a yellow card for a really bad high tackle, NZ scored and he didn't go back for it.

Martyn 674 days ago

Come on Saffas, unlike you to blame the ref when you lose. A couple of iffy decisions sure but that's par for the course. I thought he reffed the game pretty well, better than last week's pedantic twit.

lot 674 days ago

Lets wait for the video diatribe whinge from water tactician LOL. boks got the rub of the green all day long..on this game. glad AB won

Mike 674 days ago

I remember seeing a headline last week which read, "South African Rugby Calls Out 'Whinging All Blacks'"

Peter 674 days ago

I thought the refereeing really helped the Boks as he blew the whistle so often against both sides making the game so stop start which gave the unfit Bok forwards plenty of time to get their breath back. Unfortunately for the Boks, Willemse and Am's fantastic attacking play actually helped exhaust the big Bok forwards as they tried to keep up and support them.

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

FEATURE How England can shatter the All Blacks' Eden Park streak How England can shatter the All Blacks' Eden Park streak