Tank Lanning

Joubert an unfair scapegoat

2015-10-22 10:13
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
I think it is absolutely tremendous that World Rugby has made public its assessment of Craig Joubert’s handling of the Scotland v Australia Rugby World Cup quarter-final. What I find truly despicable, though, is the fact that the governing body has chosen now to vilify one of the good men in the sport who made an honest mistake.

Joubert first had to spot the Phipps touch (which was difficult to do even on super slow-mo), and then make a call as to whether it was intentional or not. All in under a second. How many refs would have made the correct call?

We have all seen much, much worse. Think Romain Poite’s handling the Bok v Argentina game earlier this year. Or Poite’s dishing out of a red card to Bismarck du Plessis. Or the plethora of other examples...

Yet World Rugby, normally totally silent on such matters, safe in the knowledge that match official manager Joel Jutge’s merry little whistle-men are wrapped in cotton wool given the protected species policy that disallows coaches or players from saying anything bad about a referee, choose now to speak!

Why, because former players like Matt Dawson and Gavin Hastings go public with utterances more worthy of the trolls on Twitter? Or because it now affects one of their own?

I have long been calling for World Rugby to make public their referee assessments each week. Not in the form of a public tar and feathering, but like the players and coaches are fair game, I do think it fair that we get to hear how Jutge is rating his referees.

Understanding what World Rugby are looking for from the referees will allow us to understand better why they are blowing games the way they do.

Better use of the TMO is an obvious learning to take from this little hiccup. But I also believe the game to be desperately calling out for a white card that allows the captain or coach to challenge a referee’s decision. I would suggest 2 per team per game, with the challenge remaining intact if it is successful.

Just imagine the drama had Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw been able to haul out a white card. Or worse, already used up both cards earlier in the game!

So to the Boks...

Heyneke Meyer might have been tempted to start Willem Alberts and make a tweak at fullback given the form of Willie le Roux, but I think it’s a good call to stick with the guys who scraped past Wales.

Le Roux still has the ability to produce that match winning moment of genius, but he definitely needs to sharpen up on his all round game. And from Schalk Burger, so industrious as per the match stats (59m run, 26 carries, 1 defenders beaten, 14 passes, 2 offloads, 16 tackles, 1 missed tackle), Meyer actually needs him to do a little less, but better.

No doubt under instruction, Burger tends to clog up the flyhalf channel. Something that perhaps adds to the Bok predictability? It would be good to see the Boks utilise the skills of the man with a 10 on his back in that channel.

Do they change their 10-man game-plan? Not on your Nellie! Perhaps ask Damian de Allende of even Jesse Kriel to put the odd grubber or chip in instead of leaving the kicking exclusively to Fourie du Preez and Handre Pollard, this to suck in a few more defenders and give them more space into which they can kick. But it’s too late to change tack now.

To trouble the All Blacks, though, they are going to need to execute a hundred times better than they did against Wales. Kick astutely, turn those dangerous outside backs, and get a few teeth rattling tackles in (which is where Alberts could have come in), and they have a chance.

Execute poorly like they did last Saturday, and it could get messy.

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.

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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