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'Not a big fan': All Blacks star glad captain's referral law won't feature in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Stand-in Hurricanes captain Dane Coles says he is glad the captain’s referral law won’t be implemented in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman over the coming weeks.


The captain’s referral is one of two new law innovations introduced to Super Rugby Aotearoa this year which allows team captains to challenge the referee’s decisions on certain plays at various stages throughout the match.

Throughout the first 75 minutes of each match, a captain can use their referral regarding a decision, or non-decision, relating to an infringement in the build-up to a try or foul play. In the final five minutes of a game, the challenge can be activated for any decision.

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Teams are given one captain’s referral, and if their challenge is successful, they keep that referral and can use it again later in the match, but if their challenge is unsuccessful, their referral is lost for the remainder of the game.

The new innovation has been used with mixed results throughout the season, but Coles revealed after his side’s 41-22 win over the Highlanders on Friday that he doesn’t like the experimental law due to the impact it has on the game.

“Not a big fan,” the 34-year-old, who is filling in as Hurricanes captain for the injured Ardie Savea, said. “That’s probably a good thing [that it’s not in the Trans-Tasman competition]. It’s kind of going behind the refs’ backs a little bit.

“Obviously they can’t get every call right, but I don’t know how the refs are when they get one [call] wrong like they did tonight. Not a big fan and it’s good they’re gone for the next bloc. Just get on and let the refs do their thing.”


The 74-test All Blacks‘ denouncement of the new law variation came just days after Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod he isn’t in favour of the rule because of how it slows the game down more than necessary.

“I feel it does slow down the game a little bit, I reckon,” Hall said of how Chiefs co-captain Brad Weber has used the captain’s referral system effectively this season.

“The referrals are great, but there’s just so many things that happen, and fair play, they’re [Weber’s] great calls, but there’s so many things that are penalised [that you’d say], ‘Oh, that’s probably happened three or four times in the last 20 minutes’.

“It’s kind of just slowing down the game. [Crusaders captain] Scott Barrett brought up a pretty good point around there of there’s enough [stoppages] in games.”


The captain’s referral system will be used one last time this season when the Crusaders host the Chiefs in this Saturday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa final in Christchurch.

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman will then get underway the following week, with Coles and the Hurricanes scheduled to take on the Waratahs in Sydney next Friday.


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