Reds coach slams SA ref Seconds after Eden Park loss
Cape Town - Reds head coach and All Blacks legend Brad Thorn has become the latest to criticise the standard of match officiating in rugby at present.
Thorn was speaking in the aftermath of his side's 39-16 defeat to the Blues at Eden Park on Friday - a clash which saw two players on each side sin-binned.
The problem for the Reds, though, was that they lost two players a minute apart and had to play with 13 men for nine minutes - a spell which swung the game in favour of the home side.
Thorn, while being conscious of not wanting his comments to come across as 'sour grapes', could not help but question a number of referee Egon Seconds' decisions.
"The game is in an interesting place isn't it," said a clearly frustrated Thorn after his side crashed to its ninth defeat in the last 10 matches. "I don't know if that's enjoyable for anyone.
"Everyone is talking about that at the moment, both sides of the Tasman. It's interesting."
The 43-year-old is referring to the recent June internationals in which the New Zealand-France and Australia-Ireland clashes, in particular, were marred by controversial red and yellow cards.
"Probably the No 1 thing, like for a lot of fans, coaches and players everywhere, it's hurting the game. The game is getting hurt," he said.
"If that's what rugby is where you slow things down .... a lifting tackle where he didn't drive him into the ground. And Taniela came up, his hands from what I saw were in front of him, and he went in hard and low... if you want to penalise, but then yellow card as well?
"There's a lot of things in rugby that are interesting. Even the knock-down rules, it's often a yellow card. In league you just get on with it. Bad pass, pack a scrum, get on with it.
"It's an interesting place that the game is in. If that's where we want to go ... for me it's hard. I was a physical player, I enjoyed hitting rucks hard, and played my league in the '90s.
"As a 12-year-old I remember my coach pulling me aside at halftime, 'when you pick a guy up drive him into the dirt'. I'm not saying we do that, but for me it's an interesting place. Referees are trying their best."
Blues coach Tana Umaga, who also saw two of his players yellow carded and his loosehead prop Alex Hodgman effectively penalised out of the game, echoed Thorn's sentiments.
"It's a tough one," said Umaga. "We need to get clarity. I'm sure Thorny will be looking to get clarity around the reasons why too. As everyone says, the magic word is consistency around those.
"We'll keep asking the questions because we've got to make sure we give that certainty to our players. What are we looking for? What do we need to adapt to?
"There's no doubt it's definitely affecting games and the powers that be will make those big decisions if they have to."