Cape Town - A popular New Zealand scribe was not impressed by the standard of refereeing in two of the Tests that took place at the weekend.
The All Blacks recovered from an 11-8 half-time deficit to thrash France 52-11 at Eden Park in Auckland.
However, the game appeared to swing when French lock Paul Gabrillagues received a yellow card for a high tackle on New Zealand centre Ryan Crotty early in the second half.
The All Blacks haven’t lost at Eden Park since 1994 and according to Mark Reason, who writes for the Stuff.co.nz website, the home crowd played a significant part in influencing the referee’s decision.
In his latest column, Reason said English referee Luke Pearce “folded like a cheap deck chair on Brighton beach” at Eden Park last Saturday.
“The 30-year-old succumbed to the noise and opinion coming from the stands. And Pearce wasn't the first and he won't be the last official to be broken at Eden Park,” Reason wrote.
Reason argued that incidents building up to the yellow card had influenced the referee’s decision.
“Subconsciously the gales of advice blowing from the stands already had him leaning one way. And it wasn't towards France. So when Ryan Crotty threw his head back in exaggerated anguish and the crowd bayed like dogs on a hunt, there was only ever going to be one outcome. Pearce didn't bother to go upstairs to the TMO. The reaction of the crowd had already made up his mind. The French lock went to the bin.”
Reason also criticised television match official (TMO) George Ayoub for not suggesting a card after France wing Remy Grosso was hit high by Sam Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
“Where was George when Sam Cane hit Remy Grosso on the chin with his arm and Ofa Tu'ungafasi then buried his shoulder into the French wing's forehead. Pearce couldn't wait to look for excuses. ‘Clash of heads, that was all,’ he said. But it wasn't a clash of heads at all, unless Pearce meant between the New Zealanders. Maybe he was so helpless by now, that it was only black shirts he was seeing.”
Reason also criticised his compatriot Ben O'Keeffe’s performance in the Test between the Springboks and England at Ellis Park.
“He (O'Keeffe) also lost it in the second half in front of a seething Ellis Park crowd of 55 000. He also sent a man to the bin quite wrongly without first bothering to review the incident. Crowds get in the head. Mob rule,” said Reason, referring to the yellow card given to England prop Mako Vunipola for a late hit on Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
READ Mark Reason's full column on the Stuff.co.nz website