Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall has issued his side with a warning to improve their discipline ahead of their clash with the Hurricanes in Christchurch on Sunday.
Hall was part of the Crusaders side that defeated the Highlanders 26-13 in the Super Rugby Aotearoa season-opener in Dunedin last Friday.
Despite their victory, the Crusaders were scrutinised for their lack of discipline throughout the contest as they conceded almost double the number of penalties the Highlanders gave away, with Ethan Blackadder and Scott Barrett both receiving yellow cards.
Loosehead prop Joe Moody was fortunate to have escaped the sin bin as well after striking Highlanders lock Jack Regan in the face multiple times.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe admitted on Monday that the 50-test All Black should have been yellow carded.
Immediately after his side’s defeat, Highlanders head coach Tony Brown labelled the state of rugby as “sad” as he vented his frustrations that teams who regularly commit illegal acts aren’t being punished severely enough.
Brown’s comments came a week after the Crusaders received four yellow cards in their pre-season game-of-three-halves clashes with the Blues and Chiefs in Cambridge.
Speaking to the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Hall said that Brown’s comments were justified and that he and his teammates haven’t been “respecting” the laws of the game.
“I think it’s fair. The refs are refereeing it and we’re all playing the same way,” Hall, who scored a try in last Friday’s match, said.
“We’ve all been delivered around what the rules are and what the expectations are, so, unfortunately for us, we’re just not respecting that and so we’ve got to be able to make a clear shift.”
The 29-year-old warned the Crusaders are running the risk of losing matches in the coming weeks if their discipline doesn’t improve.
“For us, we don’t want to be that team [where] that becomes our trademark around being penalised and giving teams easy outs and refs looking at us even more because these derbies can be so hard and especially when you’re giving away penalties.
“We’ve just got to be better at it. We just can’t afford to get ourselves in these positions again because these derby games, we’re going to start losing games if we keep putting ourselves under pressure like that.”
Super Rugby Aotearoa referee Ben O’Keeffe has admitted he should have yellow carded Crusaders prop Joe Moody during his side’s clash against the Highlanders on Friday. #SuperRugbyAotearoa https://t.co/HSvuKjsNbD
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 2, 2021
In the post-match press conference, Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson called for his squad to “self-discipline better”, a sentiment Hall said his side have taken onboard.
“We’re putting ourselves in those positions where we aren’t doing it right, so we’ve got to make a shift and we’re trying to do that, we’re trying to do that in-game, and moving forward, we want to see those numbers drop down so we don’t put ourselves under pressure.”
Former Blues hooker James Parsons, meanwhile, told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod he believed the officials dealt to the Crusaders well at Forsyth Barr Stadium, noting that “they were penalised, they were warned and the yellow cards were given, so I don’t know what more could have been done”.
However, the recently-retired two-test All Black suggested changes would need to be made as he said it was likely officials will crackdown on the Crusaders in their upcoming fixtures given their recent track record.
“I suppose from the week before, we spoke about it on here, the discipline and the amount of penalties that were given away in the pre-season game. I sort of jumped to their defence and thought that they would rectify things,” Parsons said.
“I was looking at the penalty count, I think there were five infringements in that first 20 [minutes], four penalties and one free kick at scrum time, and I was thinking, ‘Good lord, they haven’t learned from their mistakes’.
“The skipper Scott Barrett mentioned that they need to adjust and I’m sure they will adjust because the refs aren’t going to let up on them. Now it’s at a point that the refs will be looking at them even harder than the opposition.”
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