The Chiefs just can’t catch a break. While the Chiefs have at times been their own worst enemies, they’ve also been on the receiving end of some absolutely flummoxing refereeing decisions in Super Rugby Aotearoa. In tonight’s match against the Crusaders, referee Ben O’Keefe made sure that the peculiar decisions would keep coming.
With the match poised on a knife’s edge at 19-20 in the visiting Crusaders’ favour, the Chiefs were busy defending deep inside their half as they repelled waves of Crusaders’ attacks.
Eventually, the Crusaders found a gap in the armour and reserve lock Quinten Strange catapulted into the 22. As Strange tried to offload to the supporting Sevu Reece, the second-rower knocked the ball forward. Before the ball hit the ground, however, Strange managed to tap the ball backwards and Reece grabbed possession and waltzed into the Chiefs’ goal-area untouched.
Reece dotted the ball down and referee O’Keefe awarded the try then went upstairs where the TMO also adjudicated it was a fair try. While Strange had prevented the ball from ultimately travelling forwards, the laws of the game state that a knock-on occurs “when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.”
It’s for the same reason that if a player accidentally drops the ball forward but kicks the ball before it hits the ground, a knock-on is ruled.
Fans across social media quickly recognised that an obvious knock-on had occurred and were quick to vent their complaints.
That non-call of a knock-on should actually be used in future refereeing courses to highlight what a knock-on in rugby union is. It was that clear and obvious. #rugby #joke #SuperRugbyAotearoa #CHIvCRU
— Jason Tan (@JSLTan) August 1, 2020
That is possibly the WORST decision I have ever seen…it went FORWARD 3m!! #CHivCRU
— Dave (@Rugby_Sicko) August 1, 2020
— Ollie Ritchie (@OllieRitchie1) August 1, 2020
I see almost everything differently to Ben O’Keefe. One of us is a terrible referee. #CHIvCRU
— Rhod Vaughan (@rhodders9) August 1, 2020
Forget the slow-mo, it's a knock on. #CHIvCRU
— Mark Currie (@MarkCurrieNZ) August 1, 2020
That is a horrendous decision and I have no dog in this fight.
Plus it's going to give Gats more grist for his overflowing mill.#CHIvCRU
— Matt Smith (@MataiGG) August 1, 2020
Everybody including Reece knew it was a knock on. Not sure how Ben O keeffe is a referee at this level.
— blindside (@Pro14tipster) August 1, 2020
— Matt Cassidy (@Cass_maitias) August 1, 2020
Also, the knock-on definition is significantly different from the forward pass definition. “Out the back of the hand” applies to forward passes. “Loses possession of the ball and it goes forward” is a knock-on! #CHIvCRU https://t.co/rAr8niKIzy
— Brendon Trass (@brendontrass) August 1, 2020
The Chiefs are on the end of another awful refereeing decision. For me, the ball clearly went forward.
— Mana Rugby (@mana_rugby) August 1, 2020
While the Chiefs still had time to rein the match in, the score seemed to break the home side’s confidence. The Crusaders eventually triumphed 32-19 with reserve wing Leicester Fainga’anuku dotting down for the visitor’s final try of the match.
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