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Proposal of referee post-match interviews could clarify calls for fans

By Ned Lester
Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Referees have received a heavy amount of backlash in The Rugby Championship as interpretations of the law and players ability to adapt to each referee have become significant aspects of the modern game.

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The now infamous time-wasting call from Mathieu Raynal had twitter in a frenzy that fateful night in Melbourne, and while no other call has come close to facing that amount of scrutiny, the final weekend of the tournament saw both Sam Whitelock’s try and Eben Etzebeth’s yellow card receive uproar of discontent.

The Aotearoa Rugby Pod looked to tackle the issues of inconsistency, online scrutiny and find solutions moving forward to appease disgruntled fans.

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The podcasts’ host Ross Karl began the conversation:

“From Rassie Erasmus’ video, to Ardie (Savea) and Aaron Smith having pots in post match interviews, to South African rugby magazine running polls on whether you thought the ref was good on the weekend,” Karl said. “These guys are under fire.”

The panelists agreed it could help if the refs had the opportunity to review their game, like players do and express accountability.

Ex-Blues Hooker James Parsons – who has the role of Player Services Lead on New Zealand Rugby’s Player Association board, had further insight on the matter.

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“I think people have just got to come to terms with (how) it’s not going to be consistent, it can’t be,” Parsons said.

“Also, we don’t have a long line of refs queuing up because of this (scrutiny) and they are critical to us all enjoying this game that we love.

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“I’ve done some work with a number of the referees around Super Rugby Pacific and certain things we’re looking at and they actually just want their opportunity to explain.

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“For them, they never get an after match interview so they never actually get to control the narrative, they just get absolutely slated with no opportunity to say ‘this is actually what I was thinking and this is actually the rule that it applies to’

“So I think they’re up for it, well certainly in this hemisphere the refs are up for potentially having a post match interview and talking things through, I think that could be a great addition to the game and understanding of the way the laws are applied in a referees mindset.”

implementing post match interviews for referees is a potential step in the right direction from Rugby’s higher ups, but the fans also need to be more understanding according to Parsons.

“How do we change it is just accept that every game is going to be different.”

Ex-Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall agreed the proposal of post match referee interviews could be a positive step and couldn’t help but wonder if the fallout from the first Bledisloe test would have been different if Mathieu Raynal had a chance to explain his call at the time.

“People do make mistakes so I think it’s a great avenue to give them an opportunity if the do feel like they want to do that.

“You love hearing from coaches after games and press conferences, so no different from a ref that’s had a big decision in a game.

“Imagine after that Wallabies game…”

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