RWC Mediawatch with Rob Houwing
Cape Town – Two rugby writers representing a
renowned broadsheet in neutral England have strongly attacked referee Bryce
Lawrence, claiming his breakdown liberties influenced the outcome of the World
Cup quarter-final in Australia’s favour over South Africa.
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The defending champions bowed out 11-9
despite dominating vast portions of the nail-biting Wellington encounter on
Sunday, and Lawrence found himself in the firing line from both Mark Reason and
Brendan Gallagher of the Daily Telegraph
It tends to be a fairly measured organ, but
Reason in particular pulled no punches over New Zealander Lawrence’s
hotly-debated officiating of the key breakdown area.
“Lawrence made a complete hash of the game
... and the Springboks will be furious,” he wrote.
“They identified the breakdowns as a
crucial area of the match beforehand, but they did expect there to be some sort
“The South Africans thought that the
tackler would have to release the ball-carrier. They thought that the off-side
line would be respected. They thought that men would have to stay on their
feet. Instead it was a shambles.
“Yes, the Springboks are nothing like as
efficient at the contact area without the great Juan Smith to clean out. But
unless the IRB’s refs get a grip we are going to have some really dull
“Hopefully the guys who can really get a
grip at the breakdown – the South African and Northern Hemisphere refs – will
be put in charge of the final four matches.
“South Africa will feel cheated and they
have every right to complain.”
Gallagher, meanwhile, lent his weight to
the argument, saying that Lawrence had “horribly laissez faire control of the
breakdown which saw (Wallaby open-sider) David Pocock seemingly offend at
*Even leading Australian scribes
acknowledged that the Wallabies had wriggled out of jail on Sunday, with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Greg Growden
penning an online piece under the headline “Australia tame far superior
He said that “sheer determination, courage,
incredible will power and enormous belief” had pulled the Wallabies through.
“(They) could not get the ball. The
Springboks had it all night, and were granted endless opportunities to put this
game away. But no ... the Wallabies just would not let them through.”
He contrasted the performances of flyhalf
Quade Cooper and fetcher Pocock: “Cooper was way off, looking jittery and
appearing as if the relentless New Zealand public pressure had got to him ...
(but) Pocock showed he is the heart and soul of the Australian team, producing
a phenomenal effort around the park.”
*An interesting perspective on the Bok
game-plan in the quarter-final came from Hamish Bidwell of the NZ-based Waikato Times.
“The Springboks strangely abandoned the
football which has made them their name: rather than pummel the Wallabies into
submission, South Africa shifted the ball at virtually every opportunity.
“It was laudable stuff, just not especially
effective. They were more dangerous on the kick and chase.
“Opportunities were created (with the
expansive approach), most notably Jean de Villiers putting Pat Lambie away for
what should have been a brilliant try. Only the final transfer was forward, as
if to demonstrate how much running and passing just aren’t part of their
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