Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - SANZAR referees boss Lyndon Bray has admitted there was a “big imbalance” in the way referee Keith Brown allowed the Brumbies an advantage in hitting in at the scrums in their match on Saturday.
Bray has also called for more clarity on the final penalty, the one which gifted the Brumbies a victory on the whistle after being behind for most of the match.
It is clear that SANZAR is not happy with Brown’s calls in the game, especially in the setpiece, where the Cheetahs were penalised five times, often within striking distance, and saw the Brumbies claw their way back from 23-10 to win the game.
While there is nothing that can be done about the result, talk within refereeing circles is that Brown is on shaky ground and will need to up his game or fall off the SANZAR refereeing panel.
Bray, in Cape Town to meet with SARU officials and with teams in the country, said that Brown would still undergo the official SANZAR review, but had already done a “self-review” where the imbalance was apparent.
“Keith has done his own self-review and out of it the scrums to me stood out as the big imbalance. Taking out the debate about the last penalty, the imbalance came with the way he managed the engage sequence in the scrum setpieces,” Bray told SuperSport.com
“There was no question that the Cheetahs did go early, but both packs did and that started earlier with the Brumbies going early on the engage call, to which the Cheetahs responded. There were consequences to that, in that the hip position got messy and the Cheetahs lost confidence in the engage process. Keith has to take ownership of that in the game.”
As for the final penalty, where the Cheetahs were penalised for wheeling the scrum, but have subsequently claimed it was the Brumbies and not them who wheeled the setpiece, Bray is waiting for clarity from the three country scrum experts before making a call.
The Cheetahs afterwards said they ordered players not to wheel the scrum in case there was to be a penalty, but were penalised anyway.
“I’ve sent an email to the three scrum coaches in the countries and am waiting for a response,” Bray explained.
“The issue is that about three years ago we had what we call a “sideways crib”, where the back five literally walk sideways in the scrum. At the time we all agreed that it was rubbish and a negative tactic that was not in the spirit of the contest at the scrum.
“We spent a lot of time at the time debating how do you rule on it. The coaches felt at the time that you need to allow players to have an effective forward push before a scrum can wheel. If there is that, then if the scrum goes around the corner, and the scrum literally turns on its access, it isn’t illegal, as long as there is a forward shove.”
“What I’ve asked is these three or four decisions which led to penalties and the last one to have a professional view as to how we approach this. We need to get back to all the referees and make sure they are mindful that this must be done legally.”