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'Rugby supporters deserve better': Refereeing again under question following Blues' besting of Hurricanes

By Online Editors
Ardie Savea. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Photosport)

Another week, another match scattered with questionable refereeing decisions.

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Saturday night’s fixture between the Blues and Hurricanes was a scrappy affair, with both sides struggling to hold onto the ball and build any semblance of continuity.

It took until the 27th minute for the first points to be registered, with Jordie Barrett knocking over a regulation penalty kick.

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All Blacks Dane Coles, Sevu Reece, Shannon Frizell, and Scott Barrett share what they eat before a big game, who they looked up to growing up and what other sports they follow. Brought to you by Healthspan Elite. #AllBlacks #TeamTalk
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All Blacks Dane Coles, Sevu Reece, Shannon Frizell, and Scott Barrett share what they eat before a big game, who they looked up to growing up and what other sports they follow. Brought to you by Healthspan Elite. #AllBlacks #TeamTalk

That was despite the Blues having a one-man advantage in the 10 minutes preceding Barrett’s kick after Du’Plessis Kirifi was sin-binned for an off-the-ball shot on Otere Black – though many thought a red card would have been more appropriate.

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Moments after Barrett’s penalty, the Blues were in for the first try of the game – but the score was surrounded by controversy.

From a lineout maul set up close to the Hurricanes’ line, the Blues drove forwards and came within inches of scoring a try.

They came up short, however, with the maul collapsing forwards. Ardie Savea, in the process, has worked his way through the middle of the Blues pack to wrap his arms around ball-carrier Luteru Tolai.

It was a muddled finish to the assault on the line but referee Brendon Pickerill was confident what had caused the collapse, and quickly raced to the posts to award the Blues a penalty try.

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Savea was then sent to the sin bin for his role in bringing down the maul.

Footage showed that, while the Hurricanes captain had correctly worked his way towards the ball carrier, he hadn’t clearly supported his own body weight after getting his hands on Tolai, which likely contributed to the maul collapse.

Fans weren’t happy with the decision, however – believing that Savea was unfairly yellow carded – and quickly took to social media to cry foul.

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland also took umbrage with the decision after the game.

“No I don’t [think it was correct]. It was a tough one, but you get those, they go both ways, it’s just unfortunate that they’re big swings in the game,” he said.

“She’s seven points with a penalty try and a sin bin and you can’t play with 14 and create tempo.

“When there are big calls like that, they’ve got to be bang on.”

While the call by Brendon Pickerill was criticised, some on Twitter suggested that it was endemic of a wider problem, with the overall standard of refereeing throughout Super Rugby Aotearoa not considered up to code.

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