Cape Town - Force coach John Mitchell may face disciplinary action after a tirade in the press against South African referee Marius Jonker.
Mitchell expressed his unhappiness about the Stormers’ winning try in Saturday’s Super 14 clash at Newlands in no uncertain terms in an interview with The Australian.
He believes the Stormers should have been penalised as Dylan des Fountain had been guilty of obstruction before Joe Pietersen hammered the nail into the Force’s coffin. The Stormers won 25-24.
“That person (Jonker) shouldn’t referee another Super14 game or he should be disciplined or suffer some consequence,” Mitchell reportedly said.
“That is not acceptable at this level of football. It really needs to be looked into. It shouldn’t just be swept under the carpet.”
SANZAR tournament director Johan Botes confirmed to Sport24 the matter is under investigation. He has written to Australia’s regional tournament director to get clarity over Mitchell’s remarks.
South African referees boss Andre Watson dismissed Mitchell’s reported rant as “absurd”.
“It’s absurd to say Marius Jonker should be disciplined,” said Watson.
“Should a gifted player like Stefan Terblanche be disciplined because he missed with a kick at the ball in his own goal area?
“What do people expect? Robots? Referees and players make mistakes.
“I have a high regard for John Mitchell, but I can’t stop myself from saying his statement is ridiculous.”
Watson also made it clear that refereeing issues are not swept under the carpet.
“Just as coaches speak to players, I do the same with referees,” he said.
He also does not believe Jonker cost the Force the game against the Stormers.
“I quote John Eales, who said a referee’s decision cannot cost you a game. Too many things happen during the course of the game for one decision to have that kind of impact,” said Watson.
“My feeling during the game was that the momentum was with the Stormers.”
Mitchell may now be in trouble for his remarks about one of world rugby’s respected referees.
“I am surprised a newspaper is used to talk about the issue. There are channels through which such matters can be addressed,” said Watson.
Mitchell’s comments are similar to the ones by Eddie Jones that landed him a R60 000 fine two years ago.
Jones, who coached the Reds at the time, described compatriot Matt Goddard’s performance in a match as “scandalous” and “not good enough for rugby”.
Meanwhile, Jonker denied an Australian report that he had apologised to Mitchell.
“He asked if he could speak to me and I agreed. He said there had been obstruction. I told him I hadn’t seen it, but would study the video,” said Jonker.
“After watching the video I realised there had been obstruction. I phoned John Mitchell and told him he was right. However, there was no way I could see it because of my positioning. The golden rule for a referee is to go according to what you see, not what you think you may have seen.”