Bryce stands by his integrity

2012-01-23 14:46
Bryce Lawrence (File)
Auckland - New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence has spoken candidly about his role in the now infamous Rugby World Cup quarter-final which saw the defending world champion Springboks bundled out at the hands of the Wallabies.

According to the website, Lawrence became the victim of some verbal attacks, highlighting on the fact that he didn’t award the possession dominant South Africans more penalties at the ruck.

Ironically it was a situation that had some relevance to New Zealanders, as the two point exit of the Springboks was uncannily similar to the All Blacks World Cup defeat to France four years earlier - where they too lost by two points.

However while the All Blacks were diplomatic after their result in Cardiff, Springboks captain John Smit launched an extraordinary attack on Lawrence, saying he would be happy never to be controlled in a match by him again.

The worst though was when former South African referee Andre Watson suggested that perhaps there was a hint of ‘kiwi-bias’ from Lawrence, and that is the suggestion that hurt the New Zealander the most.

Lawrence said the fallout was intense after the World Cup.

“From the quarter-final through the first two weeks after that, it was pretty hectic,” he said.

“I was getting messages via Facebook and my computer."

"Watch your back when you get here because I'm going to take you out. I can't wait for you get here so I can spit on you."

"I wasn't too worried about people telling me they couldn't wait until I got to South Africa so they could spit on me. That could happen in Te Puke, too."

Lawrence said the hardest part was the realisation he could have done better, including spending time with Paddy O’Brien dissecting the quarter-final performance.

“The criticism didn't hurt me that much because I know I didn't referee as well as I should have,” Lawrence said.

"I took a plan of not being overly technical into that game and possibly that was not the right plan."

"To then get to my biggest game and not referee anywhere near as well, I let myself down and I also let the team down. We were trying to pride ourselves on consistent performances so I felt I'd let them down."

He couldn’t deny what hurt him the most was that his actions were deliberate or underhand to benefit the World Cup hosts.

"It only really hurt when it became personal, when people started saying it was a fix-up and I'd done it so the All Blacks could get through. That hurt,” he said.

"That's an attack on your integrity and everything you stand for. The criticism that I should have refereed better, I totally accept.

"I'd done my self-review and realised I'd missed a couple of things, but you can't get overly concerned about that because I had just missed them - it wasn't as if I'd seen them and decided not to do anything."

Lawrence said that he couldn’t please everyone.

"I get people stopping me saying, 'You're doing a great job, keep it up,' but equally you get the same amount of people telling you 'you're rubbish, you're crap'.

Who do you listen to?” he said.


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