Smith: Refs need to get fit

2010-07-14 07:41

Wellington - Puffed-out referees need to make sure they are in shape to keep up with play in modern Test rugby, All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith said on Wednesday.

The All Blacks in particular were keeping the ball in play longer rather than kicking for touch, reducing the number of set pieces and opportunities for referees to catch their breath, he added.

"The ball in play is around 40 minutes in the Test matches this year because of the way we're playing," Smith told reporters in Wellington.

"If you talk to our tight forwards, they'll talk about how the game has changed, markedly, because of the amount of running they have to do.

"Referees are going to need to make sure they're up there fitness-wise."

Smith's comments followed the All Blacks' 32-12 victory over the Springboks in Auckland, where 46-year-old referee Alan Lewis appeared to struggle to keep up with play at times and drew media criticism for missing a number of incidents.

Lewis's struggles prompted New Zealand coach Graham Henry to renew his call for a second match referee to be made available to relieve the first after a period of time.

"It might be after 50-55 minutes. So you have two quality refs who can keep up with the play," Henry told local media this week.

Smith said the increased pace had rejuvenated the game as a spectacle after last season was marked by territory-based kicking games. "I think the game is going in the direction people want it to go in. There can't be too many complaints around from people watching the game at the moment," he said.


  • Ernie - 2010-07-14 08:03

    What a stupid comment!!! No player keeps up with play all the time, and wouldn't be able to despite their fitness levels. You based this comment whist sitting in the grandstand watch all the tv feeds and cameras palnning with the play. The expectation that the referee is able to be at every incident as it happens is unreasonable due as you said to the speed of the game.

  • henk - 2010-07-14 08:16

    yes! i agree!! get the aussie and kiwi refs fit then the boks wont suffer when these countries refs are in charge of the match! Nothing wrong with the fitness of SA refs.

  • Bulls fan forever - 2010-07-14 08:41

    @Ernie. Not sure what you on about mate, he never compared the ref with a player. Refs don't tackle, scrum, drive, etc. So they are not a player and can keep up with the play more easily. I agree with Wayne Smith, in the old days it was no problem. Now the ref has 2 assistant refs on the touchline and a tv ref. WTF do they want more?

  • StuartW - 2010-07-14 08:59

    @ you actually know anything about rugby? Every player does not need to keep up with the ball, that is why you have different positions in a side....the ref needs to be close to the ball, how else can he make any decisions? I agree that they are not fit, look how some need to catch their breath first before letting the scrum set.....

  • PC - 2010-07-14 09:09

    Put two referees on - one for each halve of the field. This has been done in other sports with great success (field hockey is a good example). Why not try it for a trial period and if it doesn't work go back to the way it was.

  • go check this out - we need to be reminded - 2010-07-14 09:22

  • Pedto Depacas - 2010-07-14 09:38

    What an interesting statement .Makes you wonder how the football refs manage for 90 minutes, plus an additional 30 minutes sometimes , after all it is a game for sissies !! What a joke the rugby refs have got plenty time to catch their breath .

  • Jw - 2010-07-14 10:41

    You lot of sissie all blacks want to make the game faster because you are to weak to face your opponents at scrums and line out's. in future the boks will beat you at your on game plan and the i gues you will blame it on SA rugby, you NUM NUT all blacks, have only one the world cup once and one of the nothern teams are going to down size you. Face it all blacks history for fear of loosing. Grame henry you and your whole team and supporters are num nuts!!!!! idiots

  • Back in BLACK - 2010-07-14 12:21

    @JW, oh doh, who out muscled the boks, who smashed the scrums, who dominated the lineouts last saturday and who cowardly hit the smallest player from behind with a cheap shot? Google Sonny Bill Williams, only one of many that we havn't played yet not too mention Hosea Gear, Israel Dagg, Rene Ranger etc etc etc, sadly for you the AB's at the moment are only playing our B team because when we field our A team we'll only be younger, faster and fitter. I'd love to see Bakkies try that on Sonny Bill Williams and the scariest part is that he's only a back. You silly little boy, I bet your've never even played rugby you dork

  • Here in London - 2010-07-14 14:08

    The reason Alan Lewis and his assistants didn't penalise Bakkies immediately for the headbutt is because then they would have had to explain why they didn't blow for Cowan pulling Bakkies back! If they did blow for that then Cowan would have been yellow carded and a penalty try to SA but they did not want that! So Lewis took the first incorrect opportunity to card bakkies aftetrwards - what a cheat lewis is (returning the favour Paul Honis paid to Ireland in 2004). Lewis was saved by Bakkies stupidity but it does highlight how corrupt or incompetant Lewis and his touch judges were on the day!

  • Ernie - 2010-07-14 22:44

    StuartW. Played plenty of rughy. You missing my point. Its physically impossible for the referee to be at every breakdown point. The comparison with the players is that they are probably the fitest around and the referee covers more ground than the average player i would suggest , following every kick down field etc . Maybe he should take some of the medication that the players are on?

  • Chris in Oz - 2010-07-14 23:40

    @JW. I think you should rather keep your mouth shut. You are just showing your own idiocity. These numnuts that you refer to has beaten the Boks by 4 tries to 0. They did that by running the Boks off their feet. I think their strategy worked well and it was highly effective. The Boks have always tried to take them on with huge forwards because our backs are too incompetent to compete against theirs. So they kept away from the Boks' strength and attacked their weakpoint. I think that is brilliant and very clever. I think the numnuts are the Bok coaching staff who does not know how to spell strategy, tactics or game plan.

  • @here in London - 2010-07-15 09:02

    Hate to spill the bad news Boet, the All Blacks were penalised more than our team, the ref favoured our team, the All Blacks should have won more than our score. We were lucky we got kicks, I'm scared from a real perspective, the Al Blacks are good

  • Ingwe - 2010-07-19 08:13

    @jw Bad weekend was it? LOL

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