Gary Boshoff

Refs make mistakes too

2009-10-19 09:22
Gary Boshoff
Gary Boshoff

Yes it’s true, what seemed far-fetched last week is reality today: A Blue Bulls vs Cheetahs final at Loftus Versfeld!

Unlike my good friend Naas Botha (who also predicted a Loftus Versfeld final), I will not say “I told you so” because it could just as easily have been the other way around – that’s how close it was.  Last week some of the respondents to my column took my suggestion of a Loftus final personally and made very insulting comments on the prediction, so to Raymond, Lenny G, Werner, Tarka, Jason Nuy and the countless others this is for you: “I told you so!!”

With that out of the way we can continue with the focus of this week’s column, namely the performance of the three referees that handled the various play-offs over the weekend.

The first game was the 1st Division Final played on Friday evening between the Pumas and the Eagles in Witbank. Craig Joubert was the referee and handled the match with his usual calmness and authority. He was consistent throughout and was very strict at the breakdowns and patrolled the off-side lines at the rucks and mauls very efficiently – this enabled both teams to run the ball wide on numerous occasions. There were two key mistakes during this match in my opinion: firstly, Hannes Franklin’s second try was not a try in that he picked the ball up while it was still in the ruck and should have been penalised – instead the try was awarded. However, I believe that Joubert was unsighted and called for the TMO’s assistance. He, off course, is limited by the TMO protocol to adjudicate the laws within the in-goal area only. It is thus the Assistant Referee who should have ensured justice in this case.

The second mistake was Joubert’s inaction to sanction Ronnie Uys for scrumming up throughout the match, on many occasions right in front of him. In the end these mistakes did not have an impact on the outcome of the match because the Pumas won emphatically and underlined their dominance of the competition – the two promotion relegation matches against Boland will give us a true indication of the potential of this team.

In the Cheetahs vsSharks encounter, Marius Jonker gave a great display of refereeing at the highest level and showed why he is held in such high esteem by Andre Watson and the IRB.  Jonker made one major mistake in my opinion, namely when Frans Viljoen scored in the 56th minute after a great run by Kabamba Floors. Jonker ruled that the pass to Floors was forward after a call by the assistant referee, Pro Legoete. However, I’ve since watched that passage of play repeatedly on the slow motion replay and it is clear that the pass was definitely not forward - the try should have been awarded.

In the 37th minute when the Cheetahs were on the break, Joubert called them back for a knock-on – and again, I could find no evidence this knock-on. The other major mistake was off course the “try” of Stefan Terblanche (awarded by the TMO) which in my opinion wasn’t a try. The slow motion replay clearly shows that Terblanche knocked the ball forward with his left hand and then does not gather control of it again before it hits the deck – this is a knock-on in my book. 

So the match officials were responsible for two critical decisions that nearly, very nearly determined the outcome of this semi-final. They’re very lucky that Jacques-Louis Potgieter saved them the embarrassment of having to answer for it in the end.

And in the WP vs Blue Bulls semi-final, there were two decisions by the referee that could possibly have lead to a different result. The first was in the 20th minute of the first half when WP were attacking and forced the Blue Bulls to go off-side just inside their half, the referee stuck out his arm for a penalty advantage but let play continue through a number of phases with play advancing into the Blue Bulls’ twenty-two where their possession got turned over. Advantage was then over and an opportunity for a possible shot at goal was gone. I’m sure if you ask Allister Coetzee now he would have preferred the penalty and not the advantage. In close matches like this referees should ensure that the where there is no clear advantage from a penalty advantage, the penalty gets awarded, no matter how long advantage was played. However … Later in the game, Gio Aplon scored the only try of the match after the referee played advantage and allowed WP to capitalise on a Blue Bulls mistake.

The second mistake came in the 66th minute where Schalk Burger clearly knocked the ball on and the referee ruled that the ball went backwards. WP kept possession when it should have been turned over to the Blue Bulls. From the subsequent move the Blue Bulls transgressed and Pietersen converted it into three points.

Overall, the referees were excellent and applied the laws of the game fairly across the board. Like players who make mistakes, so do referees from time to time. Sometimes these mistakes have a direct impact on the outcome of a game – luckily this time, they didn’t.

Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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