JJ Harmse

Let's welcome Bryce to SA

2012-02-09 14:23
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

There is a fantastic saying in Afrikaans that goes like this: "'n Boer maak 'n plan'". It basically means that a farmer (let’s just stick to that translation of boer) will find a way to make something work, however improbable the situation.

I think we also find some of that in the innovative way South Africans generally act when it comes to life. Our sense of humour at times is a good reflection of how we approach good times and bad times.

I could only laugh when I saw a huge group of Springboks fans walking into Eden Park an hour or so before the semi-final kick-off for the New Zealand v Australia clash of last year’s Rugby World Cup.

Many tour groups and fans arrived in New Zealand as the Springboks were leaving, as most of us, if not all, expected the Springboks to play the All Blacks in that particular semi-final. They probably boarded the plane from South Africa on the afternoon after that morning’s result and would have known that their trip suddenly turned into a nightmare.

After the disasters of Wellington and the unfortunate display of Bryce Lawrence in that quarter-final match between the Boks and the Wallabies, it was the latter who faced the All Blacks and not the Boks.

Coming back to 'boer maak a plan' and the touring group, I had to chuckle when I saw all of them wearing the traditional green T-shirts, but not with any reference to the Springboks as expected.

No, these guys has T-shirts made that read - Bryce Lawrence hunting party - and I thought it to be typical of South African humour and quick thinking, as they probably would have had hours to have those T-shirts made or even had them printed upon arrival in New Zealand.

Whether Lawrence admitted his mistakes or errors in judgment or not, he never apologised to any Springbok fan, but then, neither should he have done so.

He made mistakes, it had consequences and life went on.

Apparently not.

It seems that Lawrence might not travel to South Africa to officiate in Super Rugby matches.

In the referee appointments for the first six rounds announced on Wednesday, Lawrence featured prominently and will travel to Australia (twice) and handle two games in New Zealand as well.

He is clearly very high up on SANZAR’s pecking order if he is afforded all those games in the early weeks.

If that is the case, he should not be excused from travelling to South Africa to handle matches. In fact, if he is not prepared to travel to the Republic because of a feared backlash, he should be removed from the referee’s panel altogether.

Yes, there was this Facebook page to get rid of Lawrence, and yes, maybe someone here did make a threat while really angry, but to honestly think that the Kiwi’s life is in danger, is just too far-fetched to be true.

If Lawrence is not man enough to come here to do his job, why must he be allowed to get away with it? All referees must be treated equal and if Lawrence cannot comply with the demands of his job, he must get out of the kitchen.

Also, if SANZAR do decide that Lawrence doesn't have to travel here, they will create a very prickly situation. There is already a perception that Lawrence is getting preference because IRB referees boss Paddy O'Brien and Lawrence's father are very close and to allow Lawrence not to travel to South Africa, would certainly add fuel to that fire.

No referee should be allowed to pick his own games or have a preference on where he would like to go.
I know referees sacrifice a lot and never get the thanks they deserve, especially at the lower levels of the game, but the one thing that should never be comprised is their integrity.

If SANZAR treat Lawrence any different than the other referees on their panel, they would compromise that very integrity that they expect others to adhere to.

And once that happens, the game will be in serious turmoil.

So let us welcome Lawrence with open arms when he arrives on our shores. Let us treat him and the other referees in this year’s Super Rugby series with respect.
I was jokingly comparing referees with rhino’s to a friend of mine the other day. They are both thick skinned, believe their horn is the prettiest and both are pretty blind most of the time, but they are also an endangered species...

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    jj harmse

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