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I can’t let the comments of Ardie Savea and Jason Holland go unchallenged

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

I can’t really let the comments of Ardie Savea and Jason Holland go unchallenged.


For starters, the Hurricanes ought to be good enough to beat the Brumbies every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

It shows how far that franchise has fallen, since they showed coach Chris Boyd the door, appointed John Plumtree and then had to hastily install Holland when Plumtree plumped for the All Blacks.

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They were a formidable outfit then. They’re only average now.

Maybe a win over the Brumbies would have flattered them, but they still could have achieved it if Jordie Barrett had opted to pass.

Barrett had an unmarked Bailyn Sullivan outside him – with the line at his mercy – as the clock counted down in Canberra.

Instead of passing to Sullivan, Barrett went himself.

Credit to the Hurricanes for recycling the ball and allowing Savea one last surge at the line, but the game should have been done-and-dusted by then.

A mate of mine – an unabashed Hurricanes fan since their inception – text me immediately afterwards.


He did not mention Savea, nor referee Nic Berry or Television Match Official Brett Cronan.

No, his text was simply about Barrett and the pass that might-have-been. And I agree.

Berry, Cronan and rugby’s laws around TMO-referrals were a convenient distraction for the Hurricanes.

Savea could claim he scored the try and Holland could wax lyrical about the game going to the dogs and how the language used by referees dictates the outcome of referrals, without acknowledging their own fault.

It was almost as if, with Savea soon to be on sabbatical, Holland off to the All Blacks and old stager Dane Coles hanging up his Super Rugby boots, the Hurricanes believed they deserved better.



“Heartbreaking,’’ was a word used afterwards and a narrative formed about a group of plucky little battlers who’d been robbed.

As a mechanism for avoiding responsibility, you’d have to say it worked. At least in the short term.

But it can’t obscure the fact that the Hurricanes aren’t as good as they were six or eight years ago. That the hard cultural work, done by coaches such as Mark Hammett and Boyd, hasn’t resulted in lasting change.

This is a franchise as inconsistent and unreliable as it ever was and that’s the story here. Not whether Nic Berry prematurely ended their season or not.

I wouldn’t have TMOs myself. Having watched rugby for more than 40 years, I’m actually happy to go back to a time when the referee was the sole adjudicator of fact.

It was imperfect, there were errors, occasionally a team was robbed. But, on the whole, I think I liked it better back then.

I’d say the same of all sports where technology has become the arbiter.

Berry couldn’t see that Savea had scored, replays were inconclusive and we ended up with the right decision being made.

If the Hurricanes have a problem with that, then maybe they shouldn’t have let the result come down to a referee’s call.


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Jeremy 403 days ago

This article all comes across as overly defensive. In close games you can always point to moments where the losing team could have won it, but that doesn't mean that a crucial refereeing decision can't be discussed. And it was the wrong call, and seems inconsistent with the approach most referees are now taking to this area of the game. Fact is, in these situations, it's most likely that the ball grazes the grass, which is all that's required.

Taz 403 days ago

Then by a lot of arguments about not seeing the grounding hence no try, 90% of maul tries should be scrapped too om that basis.

Ngarangi 403 days ago

Rugby shouldn’t have TMOs. It should be all up to the games referee. TMO is allowing referees the be out of sight of the ball.

Graeme 403 days ago

Bring back Boyd along with mentors Smith & Nonu.

Ruby 404 days ago

I'm not sure if there was a single ruck that the Brumbies shouldn't have been penalised for, certainly not the last one where the tackler was blatantly offside as they had been all game, it was cynical, it would've been the 4th penalty in the red zone and would have resulted in at least a yellow card and a penalty if Berry was up to test match standard.

Jackson 404 days ago

Agree entirely with the comment Jordie B should have passed the ball. That’s what rugby used to be about, but now “we want to be the hero” attitude is definitely there. There are so many missed tries by this selfish attitude

Willie 404 days ago

Agree with your comments but will add the observation that Berry was not in a position to see if Savea scored because of referees' reliance on TMO's. In the days before TMO's a good referee, of which Berry is not one, would have been in goal waiting for Savea to arrive.

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