Cape Town - Top retired referee Jonathan Kaplan has slammed the decision by Irish referee George Clancy to award a yellow card to Bryan Habana in Saturday’s 24-23 Rugby Championship loss to Australia, saying “it was a poor decision”.
WATCH: Duane Vermeulen's HUGE hit on James Slipper!
According to the supersport.com website, the decision, which swung the momentum of the game and forced the Boks to play the last 12 minutes without Habana on the field, took the score from 23-14 up to a one-point loss, and wasn’t the first poor decision that Clancy made on the day.
Another bizarre call - when Duane Vermeulen legitimately hit James Slipper - also cost three points as Clancy saw it differently to the rest of the rugby world as he penalised Vermeulen for a high tackle that clearly wasn’t.
Kaplan, who was the world’s most experienced referee, had harsh words of criticism for both Clancy and Pascal Gauzere, the Frenchman who refereed the earlier New Zealand win over Argentina and called their decisions like he saw it.
Speaking on his Rate the Ref website, Kaplan said “there were numerous decisions where the referee got it wrong.”
“Unfortunately, the referee deemed the Duane Vermeulen huge hit on James Slipper illegal, when it wasn’t and it resulted in 3 points. He did not have a clear view on the hit but still found the penalty.
“It was an error as was his reasoning that the tackle slipped up. Over sanitizing the game will do nothing for the confidence of the players, and nothing for rugby as a spectator sport!”
Kaplan then turned to Habana’s tackle that proved so costly for the Boks in the end, calling the decision “bizarre”
“Later on he penalised Habana for a dangerous tackle and was advised by the assistant referee to confer with the TMO to make sure. He did this and bizarrely still wanted to go to his pocket.
“That was a poor decision. It is wrong if match officials do not understand the sport at the highest level. None of the top 20 officials in the world should be giving a yellow card for that offense.
“And if you think I am wrong, then there should have been a whole slew of yellows not only in this match, but others in the championship too.
“Jean de Villiers tried to reason with the referee, but he had made his mind up. It is not good enough.
“I have great sympathy for referees who make mistakes on the hoof ( as the referee appeared to do when he penalised Aus 5m from the SA try line ), but not so when they do it from slow motion replays. Furthermore, the public will be baying for some sort of action to be taken against the referee as the perception is that they are getting short changed by this type of random decision making.
“SA played much better than their last 2 tests but still came away empty handed. There were parts of their game which appeared to improve, including the set piece, but some of the errors, particularly kicking errors cost them dearly. Some of the inaccuracy by Steyn, Pienaar and le Roux cost them. Their scrum will be under more pressure against the All Blacks, and they will have to be very accurate for the full 80.”
Kaplan also had some harsh words for Pascal Gauzere on his performance in the All Black v Argentina game.
“Argentina came to NZ as rank underdogs but belied their status but really taking the game to the ABs. They harried and hustled the best team in the world and although behind on the scoreboard, proved that with time they are going to be competitive and win some.
“With the score delicately poised at 18-9 ( the home team were in control ), the Pumas charged down a kick and went on to score. The ref called the play back for a knock on. It was an error. But it was one which really was not a good look for the game as it appeared the referee didn’t understand the difference between a knock and a charge down, which I am sure is not true.
“Are we going to go along the tack that we all make mistakes?
“Not I. In an age where the technology is available, the referee should have allowed the obvious score, and THEN checked to see if the knock only he saw actually occurred.
“The fact that he blew his whistle and didn’t use common sense is not good enough. Argentina were denied and it had a profound effect on the contest. I don’t think the All Blacks would have been denied as I think they may have had too much class, but I’ve been wrong before.
“The fact is that this type of thing should not be tolerated in professional sport. The technology is there. Use it!”