Kirwan: Blame it on scrums!
Cape Town - Blues coach John Kirwan says the poor officiating by referees in this year's Super Rugby competition should in part be blamed on rules at scrum time.
SANZAR, Super Rugby's governing body, on Monday dropped three referees
from upcoming matches as organisers of the three-nation tournament responded to a litany of complaints from coaches and players about refereeing standards in this season's competition.
South African Lourens van der Merwe, Argentine Francisco Pastrana and Australian James Leckie were all cut from the refereeing roster in a move referees boss Lyndon Bray said recognises "who has performed to expectation and who has not."
Kirwan, whose side have also been on the wrong side of debatable calls in recent weeks, believes problems at scrum time is making a referee's job tougher.
He feels the game's scrum problems have become so serious it needs SANZAR and the IRB to introduce an immediate change to the way the set piece is officiated.
In an interview with the Stuff.co.nz website
, Kirwan said referees should not be telling scrumhalves when to put the ball in.
"I know what needs to happen, it's pretty easy," he said as his team prepared for Saturday's home game against the Highlanders.
"Above us they need to make a decision and let the halfback put the ball in without the call from the ref. It's as simple as that, clean the game up and we'd be fine.
"I think the IRB and SANZAR need to make that decision, and I'm sure (Highlanders coach) Jamie (Joseph) and I would be quite happy to trial it this week if they want. Something needs to be done, and that's it."
Scrums continue to prove messy in the modern game, even after a subtle change in the laws this season which has seen referees giving scrumhalves an indication when they want the ball to go in, rather than making the call aloud.
"I know referees are probably the focus this week, and a few guys have been dropped," said Kirwan. "That's a consequence of what's happening because they have been concerned so much on what's happening at the scrum instead of the full game.
"If you just let the halfbacks (scrumhalves) call them, a lot of the problems will be resolved, then the referee can stand back and have a look at the two or three things he needs to control.
"At the moment the referee is up so close to a scrum (his) vision is difficult. The solution is simple - we just need to have the courage to change mid-season."