Lions coach Swys de Bruin commits what appears to be ultimate faux pas. Or is it indeed a masterstroke? – writes Jan de Konig for Rugby365.
He accused the opposition of ‘pushing the envelope’ and getting away with it.
De Bruin, addressing the media ahead of his team’s Super Rugby Final encounter with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday, made it clear that he is going to speak to, and ‘alert’, the match officials to perceived transgressions the Crusaders are getting away with.
It has been an ongoing constant theme this year: ‘Match officials tend to be more lenient towards New Zealand teams’.
Some refereeing howlers contributed to this perception and De Bruin did not hold back.
“One thing we have to be aware of it is their [the Crusaders’] home ground,” De Bruin told the media – ahead of the team’s departure for Christchurch.
“I’ve got to have a good meeting with the refs [match officials] before the game‚” the Lions coach said.
He was particularly concerned about a perceived habit of the Crusaders to creeping up, over the offside line and their illegal scrumming.
“The offside line applies to both sides,” De Bruin said.
“They can’t – because they are champions and because people think they are good – get away with certain stuff.
“I’ll make sure we’ll talk to the refs about that.”
De Bruin, who said he was speaking “from the heart”, claimed he was just responding to media questions.
“Going through their [Crusaders’] clips, there are a lot of stuff they get away with‚ more than other teams get away with.
“I will have a talk [to the match officials] about that.
“We need a fair deal. All we ask is just a fair deal. I hope we’ll get it.”
He said it is a modern trend to use the rush defence, like the Crusaders do, but added that it should be done within the law.
“There are ways to play around it,” the Lions mentor said.
“You can’t kill all the space all the time. What we do need is that space to attack.
“I will make sure we have those talks.”
De Bruin added that he had hoped for at least a South African Television Match Official.
Apart from the referee – Australian Angus Gardner – the rest of the panel consists of New Zealanders. The assistant referees are Glen Jackson and Nic Berry, while the TMO is Shane McDermott.
“It [Crusaders’ perceived transgressions] are things I have to address and make sure [the law is applied].
“There is a reason why there are [meant to be] 10 metres [between the two backlines] at a scrum.
“I looked at [Hurricanes scrumhalf] Thomas Perenara [in last week’s semifinal]. When he touched the ball, they were already five metres away.
“They have to be 10 [metres] away from the opposition backline until the ball is out.”
The problem with De Bruin’s very public questioning of match officials’ objectivity and competency is that it could backfire in a very bad way.
He could easily rub them up the wrong way, even if there is some basis to his complaints.
It may have been far better for him to raise the issues in private, rather than put it on a public ‘billboard’.
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