The past weekend’s action was marred by a series of encounters with referees which have brought rugby’s values into question.
Bristol Bears’ Kyle Sinckler was warned by referee Karl Dickson during their win over Exeter Chiefs for his foul-mouthed outburst following what he believed to be (and was) a dangerous tackle.
That same day, the Scarlets’ Liam Williams fired back at referee Craig Evans with the comment “we’ll start playing touch, shall we?” after receiving a red card.
However, the most bizarre incident of the weekend was in France’s Pro D2, where Beziers wing Josaia Raisuqe was awarded a red card after the final whistle had blown for choosing to grab onto referee Laurent Millotte’s midriff and lift him aloft in celebration.
— AlphaSky64 (@AlphaSky64) January 8, 2021
The latter episode was starkly different from Sinckler’s or Williams’. While there was no anger or malice in Raisuqe’s actions, it could be argued that treating a referee as if they were a trophy actually shows less respect than talking back to them.
That red card can be swept under the rug, as it was a comically asinine decision that is unlikely to happen for a while. The worry is that the other incidents are growing more common.
There have since been suggestions that Sinckler should have been punished in the game, but there was not a precedent set for Raisuqe’s infamous ‘lift’, and if anything it has been met by curiosity in knowing that that is what will happen should it happen again.
There has unsurprisingly been a response online following these cases though, in what some feel is a deterioration to the standards and respect in the game.
Rugby is certainly not facing a crisis with an avalanche of dissenting players. Neither has it got to the point where it has crossed the Rubicon and returning to the much-heralded values of a previous era seems impossible. But three cases coming in such rapid fire have caused a stir.
The Englishmen’s remarks have been mitigated by the fact that he was a teammate of Dickson’s for many years at Harlequins, but that is no defence. The prop is aware of that, and has apologised on Twitter for his “heat of the moment” reaction.
The positive for those that fear for the values in the game is that Sinckler has now been cited for his outburst, and Raisuqe was shown red on the field. So while there may be a perceived lack of respect, players are not getting away with it.
There is too much of this in rugby. Lots of examples of players challenging the refs over recent months, or just walking away when being spoken too. Respect to refs MUST continue for the good of the game and for young players watching, or it becomes a very slippery slope ?
— Huw Jones (@Huw27700116) January 10, 2021
We must stop this answering back to officials also. Rugby is so good for respect to all on the field. Liams throwaway comments after his red need punishment also
— Roger Small (@rogersmall666) January 10, 2021
Not long before the players referee the game themselves a la Micheal Hooper. Referees need to start marching players back, stop referring to them by first names, penalising appeasers, oh and put TMOs back in their place, advisers not over-rulers.
— Peter Anscombe (@PeterAnscombe) January 10, 2021
Sinckler is an interesting one (although not to be excused), because he played with Karl Dickson at Quins then they are ‘friends’ but he should know better. The Williams comment was ridiculous, as a touch ref I can say that leading with the head isn’t allowed in the game either.
— John Hawryluk (@jbeaton1993) January 10, 2021
I have to agree @AndyGoode10. Irrespective of what happens on the field, respect for the officials is a must. It is ingrained in any player growing up in rugby. If we don't respect the game and all that comes with it then there is no place for you in the game. https://t.co/24IGc2vCoF
— Justin Rookard (@JustinRookard) January 10, 2021
Not as poor as Liam Williams’ comment to ref after his deserved red card! Sinckler wrong as he’s acknowledged himself but Williams comments undermine credibility and importance of rules!!
— Andrew (@the_big_dob) January 10, 2021
Disrespect becoming more frequent from players, highlighted today with Sinckler and Williams. If this filters down to the lower levels I'm not wasting my Saturdays getting abused like the footy refs. I just won't bother and I know a lot of @EMRURS refs with the same opinion https://t.co/CLxCX393Y0
— Matt Tapp (@Matt_Tapp96) January 9, 2021
It’s becoming more prevalent backchat and disrespect too the refs which has always been a positive aspect of rugby maybe start imposing sanctions for this disrespect as well will bring the game back on track examples sinkler yesterday and that guy picking the ref off his feet
— Al ? (@Al43854951) January 10, 2021
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