IRB: Wessels made grave error

2010-08-04 10:31

Brenden Nel

Johannesburg - International Rugby Board referees boss Paddy O’Brien has revealed that South African assistant referee Cobus Wessels made a “grave mistake” that led to him being removed as touch judge for this weekend’s Tri-Nations Test between Australia and New Zealand.

Wessels was further removed from the referees panel for the Tri-Nations by the IRB boss in a decision which was accepted by SANZAR.

In a rare break of protocol, O’Brien explained to NZPA that Wessels had made a massive mistake in recommending a yellow card for Australian winger Drew Mitchell in last weekend’s Test match between the Wallabies and All Blacks in Melbourne.

Wessels flagged an off the ball incident where he said Mitchell had not used arms to tackle All Black captain Richie McCaw and later received a second yellow for unsportsmanlike behaviour, reducing the Wallabies to 14 men for the last 38 minutes of the game.

Scrutiny of match footage not shown on the night revealed that ruling to be well wide of the mark, according to IRB referees boss Paddy O'Brien.

New Zealander O'Brien told NZPA the alleged tackle by Mitchell on All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was at the minor end of the scale and Wessels had paid the price for his over-reaction.

"If anything, it's lucky to be a penalty," O'Brien said."McCaw offloads as he's about to collide with Drew Mitchell, who puts his hands out and pushes him away. So there's no way it's a yellow card offence.

"As a result of that, with the second yellow, Australia went without a player for almost 40 minutes and that just shouldn't have happened."

O'Brien said Wessels also called an All Blacks lineout throw not straight late in the Test when it was clearly down the middle.

"Assistant referees, we encourage them to intervene in the game but they've got to get it right. There were two decisions made which we felt weren't up to the standard required.

"Cobus has been very understanding, he admits that he got it wrong and we're not going to hang him out to dry. He's got to go away and think about that, referee the Currie Cup and hopefully learn a lesson from it."

Wessels, who will be the television match official on Saturday, will be replaced on the touch line by New Zealander Keith Brown.

However South African fans will continue to question why O’Brien was not more harsh on the Irish refereeing trio of Alain Rolland, George Clancy and Allan Lewis for their mistakes in the Tri-Nations Tests involving the Springboks but so vociferous to censure Wessels. Rolland and Lewis were sternly defended by O’Brien when the Springboks complained and Rolland was even awarded the Tri-Nations Test in Pretoria between the Springboks and Wallabies.

Meanwhile, O'Brien also defended the refereeing trend this season that has seen a proliferation of yellow and red cards, causing consternation from some teams and supporters.

O'Brien said attention should fall on the actions of the players, not the officials.

"We make no apologies for it. We're very tough on dangerous tackles, especially tip tackles," he said.

"This is the shop window of rugby so we can't have third grade players running around in club rugby tipping someone in the air and putting them down with legs above the horizontal.

"And there's no excuses for the headbutting and the other things that have happened."

However, O'Brien may have conceded that lock Danie Rossouw was unlucky in his yellow card and suggested officials overstepped on occasion.

"There are concerns that there have been a couple of yellows where the referees have been over-zealous. The game is still a contact sport so we just want the referees to be accurate when it comes to what is foul play and what is hard rugby."


  • George - 2010-08-04 10:46

    From what I remember, Cobus Wessels is known to over react in the Super 14 & Currie Cup and is sometimes a bit over the top. However, I wish Mr O Brien will be consistent with some of the other shocking referee decisions seen in the recent past. They seem to be more harsh where a South African is involved.

  • DM - 2010-08-04 10:46

    Jeepers. I don't believe in all this conspiracy against SA nonsense, but this seems ridiculous. O'Brien ignores everything so far this year, then lables a Saffa ref as making a 'grave mistake'. Pretty harsh for an oke who never says a peep about any other ref. Odd.

  • Nhl - 2010-08-04 10:48

    Whay am I not surprised Peddy? I wonder if you would've done the same had it not been a South African referee. Those three useless Irish refs got away with murder and you turned a blid eye. This is rediculous!

  • Des - 2010-08-04 10:50

    Dont expect Paddy O B to be consistent. He has rules for South Africans and rules for others. He should NOT be in that position. His inconsistency is a disgrace to rugby.

  • shaun - 2010-08-04 10:53

    A little bias there Paddy? if u can't attack the players why not the officials. i wouldn't be surprised if there are more citings or suspensions in the Bokke's remaining tri nations test. The bokke must stand up and show them with biased referees and all, we can still beat the best team in world rugby at the moment. GO BOKKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Snakes - 2010-08-04 10:53

    oh god...O'brien is a blatant chat and is blatantly agains SA. A few years ago Stuart Dickinson and all the touch judges stood by and watched as Brad Thorn picked up John Smit and dumped him on his head. And what did O'Brien say? Absolutely nothing!! Was Dickinson stood down? the IRB trying to prove PDivvy right that there really is a conspiracy against SA?

  • Larch - 2010-08-04 10:54

    It's clear from this that the rules are not the same for everyone. Why is an SA Ref treated like this (admitting he did make a wrong decision), and not the other refs, where any rugby supporter could have pointed out the obvious mistake? My take is that the SA representatives on the SANZAR panels and IRB committees are all unwilling or unable to represent the SA case...

  • Neil - 2010-08-04 10:57

    With this guy , PdV and Zane Kirchner we are building up a nice circus of clowns in rugby atm !!

  • Woebetide - 2010-08-04 10:57

    Another case of unfair attitude towards South Africa and what it is trying to do. What do ´they´really want from us?

  • Johnny - 2010-08-04 10:58

    So, if Danie's yellow wasn't fair, why is the ref in that game not demoted? So when a SA ref get it wrong, he is demoted. Smells like war.

  • chrisdup - 2010-08-04 10:59

    Paddy... That sheep tied to the tree in the backyard. Or as the Australians call it ....."The playstation" is waiting for you...tosser

  • James - 2010-08-04 10:59

    O' Brein is so predictable that he is boring!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rob - 2010-08-04 11:00

    If this isn't double standards I don't know what is.

  • Norman - 2010-08-04 11:03

    Who decided that the ball headed tit was the planets guru on refereeing?It is shocking that not a word was mentioned about that close friend of the All Blacks - Alain Rolland who only happened to warn Richie Mc Cheat no less than five times.These incompitant northern hemisphere ref's actually make the viewer switch channels and watch 'sevende laan',thats how boring the game becomes!

  • Incredible - 2010-08-04 11:03

    I am shocked with what I am reading here!! O'Brien is clearly trying to prove a point. Its just a pity that there seems to be no standard or transparency into this process. I had thought about going to to NZ to watch the RWC but now I will stay at home. Well done O' have screwed up again! Probably wont be your last time!

  • Anti - 2010-08-04 11:03

    OMG - well that just proves it - there is a conspiracy against South Afican rugby! What about the grave errors those Irish referees made? Nothing doing!!!

  • Phil - 2010-08-04 11:04

    So neither the SA Player nor the SA refs are safe from the rest of the world's malice?: "However, O'Brien may have conceded that lock Danie Rossouw was unlucky ~." "question why O’Brien was not more harsh on the Irish refereeing trio of Alain Rolland, George Clancy and Allan Lewis for their mistakes in the Tri-Nations Tests involving the Springboks but so vociferous to censure Wessels."

  • rbgguy - 2010-08-04 11:05

    And what about the mistakes made by multiple Irish officials? The IRB can go to hell

  • tuckbox - 2010-08-04 11:07

    This is ridiculous! I am a bok supporter and some of the desicions made in the bok tests were cringe worthy so that makes me think that Cobus Wessels is just the scapegoat for a succession of shocking decisions throughout the tri-nations. Also the power that Australia and New Zealand have amongst the SANZAR officials is a little worrying, and it seems to be effecting us negatively. What happened to the best refferees taking charge?? And not these plonkers from the northern hemisphere who have very little idea of how rugby is played south of the equator.

  • Viljoen - 2010-08-04 11:07

    every game that i have seen that wessels was a assisting he had his flag out for some small stupid thing.

  • bill @ neil - 2010-08-04 11:07

    whats wrong with zane kirchener? he's a deserving second choice fullback and is playing because fransie steyn is throwing all his toys. as for all this deliberate campaign to stop sa winning next years wc (which it is, only a fool would disagree) - soweto vs the all blacks will be war! time to put these self-righteous naaiers back in their place.

  • Blabla - 2010-08-04 11:09

    Bla bla bla.......Just another Irish idiot defending his clan of dimwits.......anyone wants more proof of a concerted effort against SA rugby?? Sure, and thankfully, if Wessels cocked up, sensure him, but what about the cockups of the 3 single celled Irish refs????

  • Jan Hendrik - 2010-08-04 11:09

    Oh look - Paddy got a medal! He must be a present from the Aussies and the New Zealanders for his part in the IRB's current campaign against the Boks.

  • Paul - 2010-08-04 11:09

    Yes Paddy ... and those Irish Ref's called a prefect game . I challenge you too watch those games with me and the explain some calls to me or rather some no calls... IE: Richie and Pocock's work at the break down ... yes and lastly we remember those emails about "we'll teach those Jaapies a lesson" that were doing the rounds when you were reffing.... you Biased Fool, you're bad for the game ... a real Crook shut up about our Ref's until you judge your guys with the same yardstick ... no ammount of dishonesty will help your beloved AB's from stopping THE BOKS frtaking a 3rd WC come 2011 !!!!

  • Piet van Zyl - 2010-08-04 11:10

    The words "Get the Japies" are rining in my ears!! This is a shocking statement to make, given how referees tend not to comment on fellow referee's in public! Besides, the call on Mitchell was quite warranted. McCaw, who is probably 10-15kg's heavier than Mitchell, is upended after the ball is gone, by Mitchells armless challenge. Where is Piet van Zyl? Time for some 'attitude adjustment'...

  • Rugbyguy - 2010-08-04 11:12

    Shocking! So the linesman got a call wrong, and he gets blamed because the player went on to foolishly earn himself a second yellow card? Whta about all the disgraceful calls made against the Boks? How were those officials punished. This reeks of something sinister.

  • Stephan - 2010-08-04 11:14

    Paddy O' Brien is a JOKE !!

  • tania de wit - 2010-08-04 11:15

    I am slowly starting to think that the IRB and SANZAR hate South Africa all of a sudden...this is absolutely pathetic, and as South Africans we need to stand up to this........ No punishement for the Irish Refs and linesman....but harsh punishment for a South African....

  • TP - 2010-08-04 11:16

    Well, he did open himself up for consitency with future lets see

  • BLOUBUL - 2010-08-04 11:25

    Cobus is k?k :)

  • Tinytim - 2010-08-04 11:27

    Why does it seem to be Irish referees that have a problem with our games. Now even a Paddy O has his say. Just more Irish/Paddy jokes. Note also Wessels replaced by a KIWI. Thats Sanzar keeping it nutural

  • DS - 2010-08-04 11:28

    Can we not revert to the old rules of Rugby? New rules and constant blowing of the whistle has destroyed the game... Having being a club rugby player in the late 90's, the game has become a mess with constant ref and assistant ref inteferance. I think much of the yellow card offences etc are the result of player frustrations with the new rules imposed on the game... Like everything lets keep piling on the rules etc until the game becomes totally unplayable!!

  • Johan - 2010-08-04 11:28

    Talking about consistency here? What a real joke. Put the ball back in the referees association/SANZAR/ IRB - call it what you want:" why did they not stick to "consistency" to allow the Northern Hemisphere "offline jokers" to referee all matches during the Tri-Nations competition? What would the outcome had been if it was one of the mentioned Irish referees which would have handled last Saturday's match? Same comments, same "errors' etc.? Now we have to face these characters again? What is consistency really? If you apply the same rules for the game, apply the same rules regarding referees in a given competition.

  • mik - 2010-08-04 11:30

    maybe PDV was right. i'm pretty sure that both captains got a final warning regarding what mitchell did before he got sent off. the ref even explained that when he awarded the red card..... wait i forgot NZ and the criminal colony are supposed to get a final warning and an official warning

  • RugbyOke - 2010-08-04 11:30

    How do you explain this? Because it's an SA ref he is pointed out and punished. IRB has a problem with SA. Clearly we are being victimised here.

  • Flip - 2010-08-04 11:30

    Do you not see the connection? Is Paddy O'Brian not an Irish name?

  • Ruffdog - 2010-08-04 11:31

    ooohhhhhh Bull$%#T - another ego out of of the cupboard, its like a bunch of schoolkids trying to show each other up, What about the game of rugby and stop being a bunch of poofs and get on with it !

  • jockman - 2010-08-04 11:33

    What a loud of rubbish ! Yet another NZ cheat. Does this imbecile really believe that we must believe this nonsense. The New Zealaanders whether players refs or officials will continue to cheat and protect each other until we have the guts to stand up to their nonsense but we dont !

  • Bullet - 2010-08-04 11:34

    The IRB & Paddy O'Brien are the arseholes...

  • Fair Play - 2010-08-04 11:34

    What a chump! Paddy needs to be red carded by his over-zealous, one eyed refs.

  • Craig. - 2010-08-04 11:34

    What a load of BULLSHIRT........ The worst refs in the world are now to have the BOK games to stuff up. Will they be removed?? NOT A MOER.. It is time that SARU stood thier ground and took on the IRB. We all know that their is lots of ammo that we have to prove that they do not treat all the same. The next thing is to wait for the refs to mess up again and for Supersport to show it over and over and over and over until the BOKKE walk off the field.

  • jockman - 2010-08-04 11:34

    What a loud of rubbish ! Yet another NZ cheat. Does this imbecile really believe that we must believe this nonsense. The New Zealaanders whether players refs or officials will continue to cheat and protect each other until we have the guts to stand up to their nonsense but we dont !

  • Nick - 2010-08-04 11:35

    This is bullsh!t. How many bad calls have gone against the Boks that led to a player being sent off, and nothing gets done. SA always suck hind tit. The sooner we get out of the tri nations and play in another competition the better. SA players, SA coaches and now SA refs take all the crap

  • martin albert - 2010-08-04 11:35

    How about the SARU showing a little bit of spine and lodging an objection of gross unfairness? The jokers that have ref'd the games involving SA must be taken to task & if nothing is done then nobody should moan afterwards. Mr OBrien has no right to rule selectively.

  • hester - 2010-08-04 11:35

    Maybe we should start to play darts or something. At least there are less rules to transgress and not so many politics and most af all, everybody can enjoy it!!!!!

  • Aussie Boy - 2010-08-04 11:37

    I agree with Gary Boshoff when he says the box the laughing stock of the world, but whats even more hilarious is the simpleton supporters they have. No wonder so many saffas are queuing up to get out of there

  • Pieter Fourie, London - 2010-08-04 11:39

    I agree with Larch's comments about the SA representatives on the IRB and SANZAR boards. Essentially it comes down to these representatives' guts and commitment to their "constituents", namely SA and its players. Somebody said: "Nice guys come second!", or are these SA reps to spineless and subservient to these boards to effectively communicate SA's interests. It is them and not Paddy O'Black that hung Cobus Wessels out to dry.

  • Guy - 2010-08-04 11:39


  • robert barrie - 2010-08-04 11:40

    SA rugby authorities allow NZ and Aus to lead us by the noses - whilst correct to exclude Wessels the same dont happen to other country refs because we such a 'nice' bunch of guys that allows them to do it. Time that hoskins and Co stand up

  • Frans - 2010-08-04 11:41

    Well I think to be fair it was only the Aussies that lost out big time so far. Bakkies should not be yellow carded but red carded. Danie Rossouw I think was silly but did not deserve a yellow card and so was Owen Franks. Schalk and the unknown Aussie offender were maybe the lucky ones with touching the facial area. Big thing is not to over react and get your priorties right.