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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.


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.

“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.


“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.

“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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1 Comment
BR2B 661 days ago

If refs are willing to dedicate time as to explain controversial decisions, be our guests.
But I’d be cautious if I were them:
They are already scrutinized by the referee board which reviews their performance and in the long run decides at what level they deserve to ref. And if those committees get little notice from the public, I’m pretty sure they can be as ruthless and harsh when a refereeing team illjudges a situation.
Refereeing shall always remain a subjective appreciation of rules application.
Rugby has to date protected refs and avoided the massive pressure which heaps on them in football, where you witness incredibly aggressive players surround the ref, shouting and threatening him after an adverse decision.
Such behavior is not only the opposite of FairPlay but also heavily influences youngsters to refuse lawful authority and social discipline.
I would be saddened if rugby refereeing becomes a regular topic, waved primarily by those who need excuses to explain defeats and wish to avoid self challenge.
The late example of the Bledisloe conflict over time-wasting amazed me.
Raynal only reversed possession. Nobody would have really discussed his decision if AB hadn’t scored their late try. The decision was indeed consequential, but no more. Victory was claimed as usual on the pitch, not simply through refereeing such as in boxing or Judo.

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