John Hart is pleading with World Cup TMOs to back off and let the referees do their job.
Hart, who helped guide the All Blacks to their 1987 triumph, said he agreed with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who has claimed the officials are “spooked”.
And Hart described Ben Skeen’s performance as TMO in the Australia-Wales game as “tedious and ridiculous”.
The World Cup appeared to hit a crisis point during Wales’ victory over Australia, when Kiwi Skeen’s intrusions in his role as television match official had a controversial influence on the outcome and caused delays.
It appears that after an opening weekend in which the referees were criticised by their own bosses for not being vigilant enough, the officials are now in danger of being overzealous.
In general, Hart believed officiating should be left to referee, while citing commissioners could deal with marginal incidents post-match.
“Let the referees judge on what they see,” he said.
“I wouldn’t often agree with Michael Cheika but I do think the refs have become spooked because of the publicity and pressure they are under in decision making.”
Hart also told New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB’s Mike Yardley that rugby should revert to a more traditional view of what constitutes a red card.
“In simple terms what we do not want to see is a World Cup outcome determined by red and yellow cards.
“There needs to be a little more common sense approach to what is a red card offence … it should for something which is malicious, intentional, dangerous. A very clear act.”
Hart said those sorts of acts were few and far between in the modern game.
Hart agreed with the suggestion that the officials were overcompensating for the opening weekend.
“The poor refs can’t win either,” he said.
“They are trying to do what is in the best interests of the tournament. The TMOS are interfering and controlling … it is tedious and takes too much time, impacting negatively on the tournament.”
But Hart also agreed with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who said coaches need to back off from criticising referees. Hansen said it is creating undue pressure which won’t help the situation.
Hart said the game had become very complex to referee.
“But we need to make sure we are watching the game not the referees,” he said.
After Skeen’s intervention, referee Romain Poite penalised Wallaby ball carrier Samu Kerevi for a throat-high fend against Wales. It was an unusual decision which played a big part in the result.
Samoan wing Ed Fidow was red carded against Scotland, after being issued a second yellow card.
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