JJ Harmse

IRB's Paddy not playing fair

2010-08-05 11:42
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

The Springboks are really lucky, we are told by one of their big sponsors, as they have 23 players taking the field on any given Saturday.

Player 23, who represents all those who support the team, is there on our behalf. That’s great for the Boks to know, I am sure.

Unfortunately for the Boks, they can have as many Player 23’s as they wish, if they don’t have player 31, they are stuffed.

And they have been stuffed, have they not?

Four yellow cards, numerous debatable decisions and three suspensions are the result of player 31 in recent weeks.

Player 31 also had a massive impact on the match between the All Blacks and Wallabies in Brisbane, but it seemed that player 33 actually had to pay the price.

Poor Cobus Wessels.

Here he is, being sacked for making two mistakes, one of them involving an incident where Drew Mitchell tackled Richie McCaw. The way things have been going for McCaw, one could have expected a red for Mitchell, daring to tackle the All Blacks captain at all!

After all, was it not Jamie Heaslip who saw red earlier this season when he tried to knee McCaw in the head?

Anyway, it seems that the tackle was not worth the yellow recommended by Wessels, as judged afterwards by Paddy O’Brien, the big IRB boss of all players 31's.

In addition, Wessels actually called a skew lineout throw against the All Blacks, when it was straight! How dare he, no wonder Paddy was upset.

But then something even worse happened. Mitchell prevented the All Blacks from taking a quick throw-in after referee Craig Joubert had warned both captains that he will not stand for any deliberate attempts to slow down quick-tap penalties and quick throw-ins. He even marched both teams 10 yards when they did that.

So what does Mitchell do? He prevented a quick throw-in two minutes into the second half, giving Joubert no option but to send him packing.

Now Wessels becomes the villain? How do you explain that, Paddy?

Mitchell knew very well that slowing the ball down was off-limits. His team was spoken to about it. He still did it and got burned. So suddenly Wessels is wrong and is dumped?

It is pretty much like dropping your goal kicker who missed in the opening minute of the match and the last kick of the game, because if he kicked the first one, your team would have been ahead by the time he missed the last one!

Also, were all match officials not advised by their SANZAR bosses to ‘over-react’ rather than ‘under-react’ when they had their big refereeing conference? Yes, they were.

And please explain to us, Paddy, how is it possible that a touch judge who missed Jimmy Cowan pulling back Bakkies Botha AND Botha head butting Cowan seconds later, goes unpunished, but poor Wessels get nailed? Surely not because he is from South Africa?

Maybe because the complainants are from Australia then? Remember, you acted on their instruction earlier this year as well when you removed Steve Walsh from a Super 14 game after complaints by a certain Australian Super 14 team.

Sorry if it seems that I am clutching at straws here, but a lot of things happening at the moment in your department seem a bit confusing.

Why is it again that when New Zealand and Australia play, they get the top three referees in the Southern Hemisphere, who also handled 90% of the Super 14 games these players have played this year, but when South Africa play any of those two countries, we get referees from the Northern Hemisphere?

Your referees are impartial and should be able to handle any match, are they not? If not, you may have a massive problem at next year’s Rugby World Cup.

If South Africa make the final, playing say New Zealand, will this mean that the best two teams in the world will play the final but will only be reffed by number four or five from your ranks? That’s not fair, is it?

Anyway, I suppose one needs to congratulate you because there was actually some reaction on what you call a poor performance by one of your boys. I also believe that the yellow cards flashed so far in the competition, but for the two tip tackles, were wrong.

What also was wrong is the way no yellow cards were issued to McCaw in Wellington and Australia's David Pocock in Brisbane.

The All Blacks, as wonderful as they have played this year (although most of the time against 14 men) have conceded 34 penalties so far in Tri-Nations.

Twelve in Auckland, nine in Wellington and 13 in Melbourne. But no cards. The Springboks have conceded 24 (5 + 9 + 10) and got four cards...

Two of those, Bakkies Botha in Auckland and BJ Botha in Brisbane, were for slowing the ball down or so called professional fouls. Yet, the most penalised team get warning upon warning.
Mmm, maybe Peter de Villiers is right after all...

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

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