Springboks v Lions

Stu10


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The blanket support of Rassie and his social media campaign from South Africans is on the wane. If it is supposed to be goading referees into awarding 50/50 calls to green, then it's just not working. Former player, coach and now respected pundit Nick Mallett ways in here with his column:






Rassie Erasmus' latest World Rugby ban should come as no surprise, while his methods are more damaging to the Springbok cause than he might realise, writes Nick Mallett.





The Springboks have been dealt a major blow on their end-of-year tour with the news that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has copped another World Rugby ban that will see him sidelined from the last two Tests against Italy and England.

It is a development that has sent shockwaves through South Africa, but it is also one that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Erasmus' method of taking to Twitter to highlight inaccuracies in officiating has ruffled feathers, and while many South Africans agree with the issues he has pointed towards, it is a tactic that has ultimately backfired and contributed negatively to the Springbok cause.

The British & Irish Lions series last year unveiled the frustration Rassie had with World Rugby and their inability to report back to coaches on officiating decisions quickly enough after games or admit if referees had made mistakes.

Every coach is keen to stay within the laws, so when Rassie didn't get replies quickly enough after the first Test, it resulted in a leaked video that saw him hammer Nic Berry's handling of the first Lions Test. Erasmus went through a disciplinary hearing and was ultimately banned.

He didn't go through the right processes to air his grievances, World Rugby said, and was punished with a hefty nine-month sanction that meant he couldn't be anywhere near a rugby field.

At that time, listening to comments from Britain and France was interesting, and there was a strong feeling that Rassie had gone over the top. If every coach decided after a game that he would publicly pick out 10 or 15 mistakes that a referee had made against his own team, then it would become unmitigated chaos.

Whether it's criticising through sarcasm or pretending to be naïve - which Rassie is definitely not - the feeling was that Erasmus' principle behind doing what he did was wrong even if most agreed with the assessments Rassie made in that video on Berry.

There was a lot of relief from up north that he was sanctioned for that.

What has had a more long-lasting impact, though, is that Erasmus has now isolated himself and the Boks.

In putting out his tweets, he is trying to focus World Rugby's attention on refereeing errors, crusading for the Springboks and fighting for them not to be given a rough deal.

In that sense, there has been a lot of support for Rassie from the South African public, who believe that World Rugby is to blame.

Be that as it may, South Africa - without any doubt - is the least-liked team in the world at the moment, and it's because of the way Rassie has pointed fingers at referees.

Referees know they are in a tough position in a highly-paced game where it is easy to miss things and make mistakes, and Rassie has relentlessly highlighted those mistakes in a visible way on social media, launching attacks on refereeing standards.

There is a very strong feeling amongst World Rugby and the referees that they're not prepared to have this battle between themselves and one coach after every game, even when he is not overtly criticising, but sarcastically pointing out flaws.

Rassie is not stupid, and neither is World Rugby, and they know exactly what he is trying to do.

The way you manage a referee - between your captain and coach - is absolutely critical to getting 50/50 decisions going even-handedly your way and the opposition's way.

But the impression we get from Rassie is that it's always South Africa who get the short end of the stick and that we are suffering the most.

There were those injustices in the last 10 minutes against France, and, as a coach, you get very emotional about them.

Unfortunately, I'm convinced that the reason we're not getting good calls in those moments is because he keeps pointing them out and keeps on showing refereeing incompetence.

It goes right back to 2018 and that tackle on Andre Esterhuizen against England at Twickenham where, in the aftermath of that loss, Erasmus came out with a video sarcastically teaching Esterhuizen a new tackling technique, telling him he wasn't going high enough.

World Rugby has a whole list of instances where Rassie has expressed dissatisfaction through social media.

If he continues to do this, I believe we are guaranteed to continue to get bad calls from referees. There is no question that the officials are aware of these tactics and trying to protect themselves.

Why should they give an advantage to a team that has sought to embarrass them through their director of rugby?

You might win a battle where South Africans think you are being funny or clever, but the war will be lost because, ultimately, you are doing more harm than good with this approach of constant criticism.

The other concerning element is that there has been seemingly no input from SA Rugby.

I assume that Rassie reports into president Mark Alexander and CEO Jurie Roux, and they should be the ones telling him to cool off on the social media posts, but it doesn't look like that has been said.

If those conversations have happened, they haven't had the desired impact. If they haven't happened, then that is effectively supporting Rassie in what he is doing, which is even more dangerous.

If SA Rugby has signed up to all the laws and processes of World Rugby, which I presume they have, then they should be encouraging Rassie to fall in line with those rules and processes.

You can't only look at this through Springbok glasses. Can you imagine if every national coach behaved this way after every Test? It would be impossible to handle.

Whether you like World Rugby's processes or not, the fact is that everybody has to adhere to them, and failure to do so will be punished in the way that Erasmus has now been dealt with again.

You're not going to change anything through social media. All you're going to do is alienate people. It's not the way.

Sometimes you get the rub of the green in games, and sometimes you don't, and the sooner Erasmus and the Springbok management group accept that, the better.

In moments like this, there are no winners. And the only ones losing are the Boks. On the field, off the field and, once again, in the eyes of the global rugby community.
Interesting article... Mallet (fairly) states that Rassie is doing harm through his tweets criticising officials directly, through sarcasm or pretending to be naïve is damaging, I'm not sure Mallet saying he believes referees are biased against SA as a result of this is setting a great example.
 

Volun-selected


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Maybe ex-players seem to only know the rules form their last pro game, do they spend extra time to really keep up to date?

Possible solution is that the broadcasters should make a point to bring in a current top flight ref for the internationals? A few squawked “A red for that!!?” or “How was that not forward!?!l followed by a calm “foul play, direct to head, no mitigation” or “the ball carrier being stopped in their tracks only makes it seem that way” etc might defuse a number of these outbursts pretty quickly.
 

crossref


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Maybe ex-players seem to only know the rules form their last pro game, do they spend extra time to really keep up to date?

Possible solution is that the broadcasters should make a point to bring in a current top flight ref for the internationals? A few squawked “A red for that!!?” or “How was that not forward!?!l followed by a calm “foul play, direct to head, no mitigation” or “the ball carrier being stopped in their tracks only makes it seem that way” etc might defuse a number of these outbursts pretty quickly.
Nigel Owens performed this role not long ago - the 2022 6N ?
I don't think it went very well
1 - NO is a great pundit, but he's not a laws nause and his explanations weren't always very clear, nor precise (IMO)
2 - as it turns out there are lots of decisions that are puzzling and they turned to the NO so often, it started to become very ref-focussed commentary.

Anyone who has watched a game with a friend who is a referee (cough) can understand that it can get a bit boring
 

didds

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We;'ve had NO as a "expert" on TV comms this year. I cant say over all that was a success. Becasue what we got was "THIS is what shoud have happened" - rather than "I can see what the ref made that call becasue of a/b/c".
Update - CR beat me too it with a far more eloquent reply.
 

Stu10


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Nigel Owens performed this role not long ago - the 2022 6N ?
I don't think it went very well
1 - NO is a great pundit, but he's not a laws nause and his explanations weren't always very clear, nor precise (IMO)
2 - as it turns out there are lots of decisions that are puzzling and they turned to the NO so often, it started to become very ref-focussed commentary.

Anyone who has watched a game with a friend who is a referee (cough) can understand that it can get a bit boring

When NO was commentator I felt he was very careful to never say he disagreed with the decision on the pitch or that he felt the decision was wrong, instead he talked around the decision and what factors may have been considered; which made for less exciting TV, but a good example of respecting the officials.
 

crossref


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When NO was commentator I felt he was very careful to never say he disagreed with the decision on the pitch or that he felt the decision was wrong, instead he talked around the decision and what factors may have been considered; which made for less exciting TV, but a good example of respecting the officials.
that's another good point.
So maybe it's never going to work having a polite ex-ref. Perhaps they just need to have a Law expert.
 

Lee Lifeson-Peart


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A referee co-commentator was tried in Super League giving their opinion on decisions. In RL it's less of an issue as there's less to referee and to be quite frank the ex-referees they got on were boring b******s.

To be frank if commentators just STFU when referees were explaining and/or looked at the primary and secondary signals they'd have less cause to get their knickers in a twist when something contentious does happen.

If you look at Matthieu Raynal and Foley at the end of the Bledisloe Cup match it was obvious what the issue was but that didn't stop the so called experts going into orbit when it happened.
 

didds

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When NO was commentator I felt he was very careful to never say he disagreed with the decision on the pitch or that he felt the decision was wrong, instead he talked around the decision and what factors may have been considered; which made for less exciting TV, but a good example of respecting the officials.
thats interesting - because my recollection was the opposite!


Or rather, he didn't say "Ref X is wrong". But he would say "A happened, then B happened, and we can see X also happened, so the result is R". Though in the actual the game the ref had awarded something different.

Im sure Stu is correct!
 

Stu10


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In contrast to Rassie, TASanalytics and Super Sport, I was very impressed by the positive attitude of the Sky Sports NZ presenters regarding the Autumn internationals, including the recent Eng v NZ game... check out the first 10 minutes:

 

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Maybe ex-players seem to only know the rules form their last pro game, do they spend extra time to really keep up to date?

Possible solution is that the broadcasters should make a point to bring in a current top flight ref for the internationals? A few squawked “A red for that!!?” or “How was that not forward!?!l followed by a calm “foul play, direct to head, no mitigation” or “the ball carrier being stopped in their tracks only makes it seem that way” etc might defuse a number of these outbursts pretty quickly.
NFL do this pretty well, with an ex-umpire or laws expert on hand to explain controversial or borderline decisions. Often explaining why the umpires might have got it wrong - i.e. influences, visibility etc.
 

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In days of yore, there was a very good irish commentator who got qualified as a referee. He actually felt it was a professional obligation to be as informed as possible.

We get an Irish commentator on some of the games here, and the guy we get is very...well, he's excitable, but I can't often say he's wrong, he remembers to STFU when the referee is going through the protocols.
 

crossref


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NFL do this pretty well, with an ex-umpire or laws expert on hand to explain controversial or borderline decisions. Often explaining why the umpires might have got it wrong - i.e. influences, visibility etc.
yes, my instinct is that this could also be very valuable in RU -- but Nigel Owens wasn't the right person.
 

Phil E


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Brian Moore did commentary having done a referees course.
 

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One thing to note is that we are not a representative audience, we are all crying out to hear what the ref says, and to have an informed analyst in the commentary team ...

.. but the other three million people watching perhaps don't care so much !
 

Lee Lifeson-Peart


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Was he any good?
Refereeing or Commentating?

I recall he did a London Scottish 3rds or lower game in LEGGINGS!!!!!! and pulled his calf before the end. I never heard of him doing another although he may well have done. He used to post on here but I don't think he has for 10 years or so.
 

Pedro

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yes, my instinct is that this could also be very valuable in RU -- but Nigel Owens wasn't the right person.
Agreed. But then....who is at the moment? I can imagine Wayne Barnes would be pretty good at this when he finally hangs up his whistle, but struggle to think of a recently retired Ref who would be better.
 
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