Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
New Zealand New Zealand
France France

'That's what's sad about rugby': Tony Brown hits out after ill-disciplined Crusaders defeat Highlanders

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

Highlanders head coach Tony Brown has vented his frustration at the lack of punishment dished out for repeated infringements after his side lost to the Crusaders in the opening match of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 26-13 defeat at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin left Brown questioning how the Crusaders were able to walk away with all four competition points despite a lop-sided penalty count that went against the visitors.

The reigning champions were penalised 15 times by referee Ben O’Keefe, as opposed to the eight the Highlanders gave away, as Ethan Blackadder and Scott Barrett both spent time in the sin bin for various infringements.

Video Spacer

Highlanders vs Crusaders highlights | Super Rugby Aotearoa | Round One

Video Spacer

Highlanders vs Crusaders highlights | Super Rugby Aotearoa | Round One

The temporary dismissals of Blackadder and Barrett lifted the Crusaders’ yellow card count to six since last Saturday, with the Christchurch-based franchise picking up four yellow cards in their game-of-three-halves matches against the Blues and Chiefs.

The Highlanders, meanwhile, spent almost a quarter of Friday’s match inside the Crusaders’ 22 and enjoyed 71.6 percent of the territory.

However, the southerners weren’t able to take anything from the match, and Brown didn’t shy away from those figures while speaking to media at the post-match press conference.

“If you look at tonight’s game, that’s what’s sad about rugby at the moment,” he said.

“We had 60 percent possession, 60 percent territory. We only concede eight penalties, they’re conceding 19 penalties and numerous penalty advantages against them and then two yellow cards and they still win. That’s the sad thing about footy.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson was pleased with how his side kept the Highlanders at bay, though, noting that yellow cards have become common in modern-day rugby.

“We defended really well and then someone would get half a foot in front and you’d get penalised and we’d be in the corner again,” he said.

“It was a pretty evil cycle for a long time for us, but it’s just the way rugby is now. There’s going to be cards – not that we were cynical, it’s just a judgement of error about how deep you are, so we’ve got to be squeaky clean.”

When pressed further on the matter and asked whether his side deliberately pushes the letter of the law, Robertson maintained his side doesn’t intentionally set out on giving away penalties as a means of thwarting opposition attacks.

ADVERTISEMENT

“When you’re on defence, you’re under so much pressure and the ref can pick up a lot of things, so there was no intent behind it.”

That, however, is of little consolation to Brown, who said the Crusaders were “potentially” lucky to only have two players sent to the sin bin.

A scuffle between Crusaders prop Joe Moody and Highlanders lock Jack Regan, where the former hit the latter with multiple open-palmed strikes to the face, could be seen as one particular instance where the Crusaders evaded severe punishment.

Brown wouldn’t be drawn into commenting on whether he believed Moody’s actions warranted a yellow card, but he did suggest the Crusaders have work to do on their discipline.

“Referees are doing their job, but I know they’ve had five yellow cards in two games, so something’s not working.”

Robertson agreed with that sentiment as he challenged his side to question how they can “self-discipline better”.

Nevertheless, Brown conceded the Crusaders were impressive on defence as they repelled wave after wave of Highlanders attacks as the home side tried and failed to score from their normally effective rolling maul.

“We got lots of penalties, we had a lot of maul opportunities, but the Crusaders were just too strong and we just couldn’t execute there,” he said.

“Hats off to them. From our side it’s frustrating, but from their side they defended really well.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

LIVE

{{item.title}}

Trending on RugbyPass

USER NOTICE:

As part of a series of planned improvements, we will need you to reset your RugbyPass password from 24/07/24 to continue commenting on articles.

You don’t need to change anything until that time.

Thank you,

Comments

0 Comments
Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

T
Tim 15 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

2 Go to comments
FEATURE
FEATURE Eric Rush: France have ‘perfect’ Olympic sevens recipe Eric Rush: France have ‘perfect’ Olympic sevens recipe
Search