The abuse of Romain Poite has no place in our game

Unless you’ve spent the last seven days holidaying in a different part of our solar system, you will have seen one of rugby’s most contentious and high-profile refereeing decisions play out in Auckland last Saturday.

For the benefit of the interstellar travellers out there, the weekend’s Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and the All Blacks saw Springbok hooker Bismarck Du Plessis yellow-carded for a crunching tackle on Dan Carter. French official, Romain Poite, asserted that Du Plessis’ massive hit was illegal. Successive video replays showed this to be false, but the Frenchman had made up his mind and crucially instructed Television Match Official (TMO) George Ayoub to check only for foul play in the scuffle that came after the hooker’s challenge.

In an era where elite referees are oft accused of an overly-pedantic and unnecessary reliance on the TMO – whose role in the game is ever-increasing – it was at least encouraging to see an official make a real-time decision, and with such conviction. However, with the technology at his disposal, the ability to review the incident himself on the big screen, or have the TMO do so, there was little excuse for Poite’s call, particularly given how game-altering it proved to be.

Du Plessis was later correctly shown a second yellow for leading with his elbow into a tackle, amounting to a red card, and depriving the Springboks of arguably their top performer. With the hooker’s final departure, the game was effectively over as a contest, and the hosts retained and extended their proud record at Eden Park.

That one of the most eagerly-anticipated and engrossing test match battles was dominated by refereeing decisions left an overriding feeling of disappointment. Spectators and fans gave voice in the days that followed to their frustration at being “short-changed” by the eventual non-contest. The uproar in South Africa is all the more understandable given what was at stake, and that many believed Satuday’s fixture offered a realistic chance of a rare victory on New Zealand soil.

Nonetheless, neither the inaccuracy of the decision nor the magnitude of the occasion justifies the torrent of abuse flowing from all around the rugby world in the direction of Romain Poite and the IRB. Even certain household names within the sport have taken their criticism of Poite’s ruling several steps too far. The Frenchman is one of the world’s most distinguished and accomplished referees, and to see a single mistake spark a mass movement against him is at best unsavoury, and at worst, disgraceful.

Currently, a Facebook group entitled “Petition To Stop Romain Poite Ever Reffing A Rugby Game Again” is sitting at over sixty-thousand likes. This online campaign has an altogether familiar air to it, with a similarly titled page on the site hitting out at Kiwi official Bryce Lawrence in the wake of the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Australia and South Africa. The Springboks had felt aggrieved after that game at Lawrence’s interpretation of the breakdown, particularly with regards to Wallaby flanker David Pocock’s legality while contesting for the ball.

Speaking last year to the NZ Herald, Lawrence admits the movement against him ‘got pretty nasty’.

“Not really threats on my family as such, there was a concern, but it was mainly aimed at me through social media,” he said. The safety fears this raised prevented him from taking charge of games in South Africa, and eventually forced his retirement from refereeing at the age of just forty-one. He now works as the NZRU’s high performance referee reviewer.

This week, I spoke to Wayne Barnes, another elite official who has suffered at the hands of such online insult, and overcome a number of setbacks in his career with the whistle. The Englishman is keen to point out that the perception that referees are not held responsible for their mistakes is one that is entirely false.

“As someone who’s been stood down from internationals, someone who’s been taken off the international panel, and someone who’s been stood down from Premiership rugby – the belief that we’re not accountable is not right. If a player doesn’t perform, they are accountable to their coach or director of rugby, the same as I am to my bosses if I don’t perform,” said Barnes. “We’re assessed, scrutinised, supervised in every single match. We do a self-analysis of every single match. Each coach gets input into our performance review via our managers. Also, we’re pretty harsh on each other as well. That idea that we aren’t accountable is wrong – I can tell you from personal experience that we very much are.”

Barnes also sought to dispel the misconception that referees are not, first and foremost, fans of the game they officiate. “People don’t understand that referees are massive fans of the game. We actually enjoy rugby. The reason we got into rugby is that we love the game, and want to be involved in the game. For whatever reason, we’ve ended up retiring from playing and refereeing instead. But we still love the game, and love going down to our local clubhouse, having a few pints with our friends, watching our international team on TV and cheering them on.”

Barnes has experienced first-hand the vitriol from fans, having incurred the wrath of much of New Zealand following the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between the All Blacks and France. Many were upset by his decision to yellow-card Kiwi Luke McAlister, and claimed he failed to spot a forward pass in the lead-up to the crucial second French try. He feels, however, that the bile and contempt that reared its ugly head anew this week is detrimental to the sport and its wider image.

“Someone on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t really know the kind of world that’s out there. I think we’ve all got a duty to uphold what is special about the game. What everyone loves about our game is this idea of the mutual respect between teams, referees and fans. People abusing players or referees isn’t good for our game. Sure, we have to be able to learn from each other and hold our hands up when we make mistakes, but someone screaming abuse at me from the touchline, or screaming abuse at a player from the touchline or online – it’s not good for the game or what we should really applaud about our game.

“The idea of respect and discipline is what makes us unique, and what I believe is our unique selling point.”

Put simply, the abuse and derision hurled at Poite over the past seven days is not befitting the sport of rugby union, or the values it embodies and holds so dear. The Frenchman recognises he made a mistake, and has officially acknowledged so. The IRB have issued a statement as such, and wiped the red card from Du Plessis’ record.

It may be that Poite is stood down from international matches for a period, but one is left desperately hoping that his career does not follow the same path as Lawrence’s. As Barnes points out, respect is a key pillar of the sport, and something that has largely been upheld throughout the professional era. It sets rugby apart from so many of its contemporaries, and it is something the game cannot allow to be lost – least of all in favour of the ill-conceived spite that at present threatens to tarnish its reputation.

Read more from Wayne Barnes in Jamie’s in-depth report on the IRB’s scrum directive, coming soon on the blog.

By Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

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56 comments on “The abuse of Romain Poite has no place in our game

  1. Hmmmm. Yes you are quite correct that hurling abuse from the shadows of the internet is perhaps not acceptable. However we live in a world where people can make their views public and there is no turning back from that fact. We also live in a world where the technology available for everyone is there to make the right decisions or have an opinion on said decisions. Perhaps one should not overreact to the idle threats and innuendo from disgruntled fans just as you seek them to keep a level head about a game of rugby.

    Frankly the level of venom hurled at BdP from fans at the game, which I am sure coerced Poite into making his first erroneous decision is just as deplorable as the comments from certain fans. You cannot banish social media, you cannot stop individual refs from making wrong decisions, you cannot banish vocal home support either, but you can make changes to the system which makes these events less sensational. Why not comment on those?

    What rugby needs is some common sense, specifically around ref calls and cards that allows for some sensibility to return to a physical game that will always have moments of contention. I can tell you that after watching that incident and then having to sit through a Saracens team beating a 14 man Gloucester team the next day, I seriously questioned why I wanted to watch rugby again, and this is from someone who watches many junior games to discern the new talent coming through, and has watched Rugby for 30+ years.

    The worst part of this whole debacle for me has not been the social media hysteria but the ludicrous inflammatory statements from some so called journalists. Perhaps you can get some even handedness here and comment on that as well.

    Anyway the fact that the two social media events you use to illustrate your point seem to emanate from South Africa is perhaps more a manifestation of the intensity of support in that country rather than anything bad about the role of social media.

    • Really struggling to understand your point about the Sarries game, are you suggesting the red card was a poor decision and this sort of ‘physicality’ should be tolerated in the game?

      Although I deplore keyboard warriors I agree it’s a subculture that is here to stay. I’m all for use of technology and a review system to help referees get the big decisions correct, it’s the only way to protect them from this sort of abuse. It’s fine to say “Perhaps one should not overreact “, but how would you and your family feel if thousands of people were posting hate about you online or, as in the Gatland case, death threats? I don’t think it’s that easy to brush off.

  2. The point I am making with the Sarries game is that watching 15 men against 14 is not what I pay for. Why make a team suffer when one individual is at fault? Before this two card system was introduced you seldom saw so many games with 1-2 men out of the game for extended periods. Now it is so common place that there are few games where 15 men play 15 for a full game – in fact are there any such games anymore? In my view the two card system has done little for rugby and needs a serious revamp. Individuals need sanction not teams. Sanction a team when it’s clear that repeated offences are a team issue not an individual issue. BTW, I am a Sarries supporter but drew nothing from their win against 14 men. I struggled to find the contest of any interest after that sending off, no matter how deserving it was.

    To answer your second point. If you are a public figure then hate mail is part of the game. If people have made genuine death threats, and I am yet to see any proof of these, then surely those people would be tracked down by the police and prosecuted, no? The fact that I have heard nobody being prosecuted for death threats makes me wonder if these so called threats are not just immature and emotional comments, overreacted to by others.

    We do not live in a world where rugby personalities are bumped off for their alleged misdemeanors so I am not sure how much credence anyone draws from these threats. Yes its not nice being threatened or hated but how are you going to stop this other than ignoring it, or better still being blind to it? You take the hate with the adulation if you are a sporting personality as it’s all part of the territory.

    As a final comment I might agree with your statement that the inflammatory nature of comments by some is undesirable. However I know for a fact that you cannot stop these comments from being made, openly or in private, and that all you can do is to decry them when you hear or see them. On that score your article serves its purpose.

    • On your point about taking that hate with the adulation; are you talking about referees? What referees have ever got adulation for a good refereeing performance?

      I also really think you are downplaying online death threats. Tracking people online making death threats is also incredibly difficult so that is a huge reasons why prosecutions are not made. Whilst no referees have not been harmed, it is not acceptable just to just tell referees to get on with it if they and their family are receiving death threats.

      • Sure no ref gets adulation but then they are not the central part of the game that spectators go to see, but Gatland is another matter. You don’t expect the taxman to get adulation and neither should the ref expect adulation. Not being spoken of or not noticing the ref serves as adulation frankly. In my view the referee fraternity would get much more respect if each week on some or other TV show one of them represented what had gone wrong or right on the previous weekend. As things now stand they are aloof from publicity and open to attack. One only ever hears there side from a third party.

        I am pretty sure however their families have not personally received death threats, at least not what would constitute a valid death threat in my book. Can you point me to such a threat please as I am sure the threats are simply immature people making wildly stupid threats somewhere in cyberspace, rather than anything really serious? I am also sure that tracking these people, assuming they are cyber-retards is quite easy if there is a will to follow up valid threats made.

        While I agree that threats of this nature would not be acceptable, I also know that they are going to happen and that over reacting to them is exactly what the idiots who make them want to happen. I am happy for you to show me evidence if you think I am wrong rather than just making an assumption about an alleged threat you cannot validate yourself.

    • I think we all prefer 15 on 15, but what are you suggesting the sanction should be for stamping on a players head 73 seconds into the game? Should Wood be sent off but a replacement prop comes on and we stay 15-a-side?

      If teams with good disciplinary records tend to come out on top over teams that can’t keep their players on the pitch I think it’s OK personally …. provided the decisions to send people off are correct ones.

      As for the online abuse I don’t know how you separate a serious threat from a someone just being stupid. Were the threats to track down and rape an MP campaigning for feminist issues serious? Or is all that OK because they are a public figure? Don’t understand your perspective on this at all, were you subject to it you may think differently.

    • Jay, I really don’t see that Yellow and Red cards and their issuance is something that we should avoid.

      I do agree that 15 v 14 for a whole game especially is something that we would rather avoid. BUT, we cannot go back to no sendings off.

      I see your point about individual fault against a team punishment, BUT rugby is first and foremost a team game. It is one of its core values.

      So there are two types of card; (a) one is for a tactical/cynical act that is generally seen as “taking one for the team”, and the other (b) is an individual act of recklessness, that could be either cynical gamesmanship or malice (stamping, punching etc).

      It makes perfect sense to me that, in line with Rugby’s ethos, the latter example (as per Nick Wood) should affect the whole team. I have been in this situation and the perpetrator is left in no doubt how he has let the team down. It is this very situation that minimises the instances of this behaviour in the future. It is also this very situation that encourages players to control their team-mates volatility at times and as and when necessary.

      • By the way, when I say “we cannot go back to no sendings off” I refer to the times when it was very, very difficult to get sent off. At least in the West Country (and possibly many other like-minded rugby lands).

        • Blub, I agree rugby is a team sport but to seek to punish a whole team for one person’s stupid act is no fun as a spectator to watch. The team members don’t pick the team and some players are more volatile to control than others. If you want to make a point punish those who select serial offenders. Nick Wood did something really stupid and was rightly punished for it. Why his team mates had to suffer is beyond me though.

          As regards carding not changing; if I were to agree with you it would be with the addition of the right to on-field appeal by the captain for up 2 infringements so that where a ref acts in haste and irrationally as Poite did, that someone else can take a decision. I know this would not be watertight and probably just as fallible but at least it would give some relief and reflection to blatantly stupid decisions. How this extra time would be added to already congested TV schedules is another matter.

          Week after week we have to endure one or other ref blunder and the ensuing outcry from the losing camp and supporters. This is really starting to detract from the sport and rugby would do well to lessen the impact of these scenario’s arising in future. If the card system was supposed to remedy this, in my view it has failed.

          • Jay, i think we will agree to disagree on this bit;

            “Nick Wood did something really stupid and was rightly punished for it. Why his team mates had to suffer is beyond me though.”

            Its because it is a team sport.

            It is tough, but if the alternative is an enforced replacement, there is a chance that we could see more foul play. The risk of getting red-carded is mitigated if there is someone to copme on and replace the offender.

            On field appeals? Oh no. It is a horrible part of cricket, and the rugby ref has a far more difficult job to do than a cricket umpire, so it is inevitable that there will some errors. But that is part and parcel of the game.

            Lets not forget that players work to force errors from the refs, and take advantage from them. All teams do, probably at all levels, and one of the great skills of rugby players is to play to the ref.

            this isn’t cheating, or unlawful its is just learning to work with the interpretations of that particular ref on that particular day. To me, this is a beauty within the game not a detriment to it.

            • It’s a team sport so if you let your team down you suffer so you should avoid doing it. If you simply get replaced what’s stopping someone saying “well, I’m a bit tired now anyway, may as well do something reckless and cynical before I go off”?

              No one likes 14 on 15 (except those times when there’s some incredible dogged defence), but the rules are the rules. If you can’t follow them, you don’t stay on the pitch and if the coaches can’t instill that level of discipline on their players, the team is going to suffer.

              Sounds far more logical than saying “go on you little scamp, send on the next feller”. A red card is generally for a pretty extreme incident and as long as you’re smart enough to avoid those, you and your team will be fine.

  3. Matt, I’d prefer a system where a replacement could be made for a red carded player. Too many red cards in a season for a team and they get docked points on the league table or in one off games on the scoreboard, but all of this must have an appeal system to provide fairness. I just don’t much care for uneven games no matter how much you think that supposedly rewards discipline.

    Your argument about discerning valid threats is an interesting and topical one. Your logic seems to me to be the same as that employed by the NSA. Assume all threats are valid and move on from there, including treating all as suspects all the time. In the example you mention I would expect the police to follow up on the matter if a complaint was made, failing which I would expect the MP to engage in civil action against the miscreants. If none of that is done or is successful then the matter rests and cannot be put right. That’s life as much as you may decry its fairness or lack thereof!

    I also don’t see where you are going with this as you want something to stop but you have no means of making it stop other than through persuasion. My point is quite simple; if you are threatened you have the ability to seek recourse, either criminally or through civil means. Failing that you can use persuasion. Failing that you can either ignore it or seek personal retribution and suffer the consequences of that foolish action.

    In my view where you go wrong is you see these threats as an affront to rugby in general whereas I see them as threats by foolish individuals against other individuals all of whom are either interested in or participants in the sport of rugby. I don’t see how rugby can directly do anything to stop the threats as they have no control over what people say on social media which is not under their control. I do however see that rugby can change the way that situations arise to attenuate such potential threats being made.

    Lastly I do not think the argument about me feeling different about this if I was personally attacked is useful. If we used this logic for laws and rules we would have nothing but tyranny as we would seek to stomp out all perceived threats because of our own emotional trauma.

    I can understand your article if it seeks merely to use moral persuasion but I somehow think you have something else in mind. If so can you explain how you think rugby should react to these threats to stop them from happening in future?

    • As the saying goes ….

      “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference”

      …. so although it’s something I despise I can’t change it so I have to accept it. From a rugby perspective the best protection to provide officials is to provide them the tools, training and support to get a high a percentage of key decisions right as possible, so there is less to rant about.

      I completely disagree with the calling on a replacement for a carded player to maintain a 15 on 15. Consider the scenario of Dan Carter or McCaw being targeted, taken out of the game through foul play, the offender sent off and a replacement coming on. The team committing the offence benefits from their act of foul play. Even if the penalties/bans applied afterwards are made more severe I still don’t think it works, consider a player retiring after the world cup final and Carter is running rings round him …. if only we could get him off the pitch …. Keeping things 15 on 15 is just too open to abuse, so I think it’s best to keep things as they are, even though the consequence is devaluing some contests.

      • Matt, we come from very different sides on this matter. I don’t believe that teams go out and target to hurt specific players, neither do I believe that certain players do that either. I also do not believe they would do that if the only sanction was to replace a red carded player. As such I expect rules to take that into account and give benefit of doubt as a first resort. Perhaps I am naive.

        Your view on the other hand seems to be that teams will target key players and that the rules should always reflect this negative intent in its punishment. I have great difficulty with this type of thinking but then perhaps it’s just me.

        The only middle ground here is an on-field appeal system which seeks to reverse an obviously wrong decision. If that fails as well at least it has given the wronged team some on-field redress.

        • I’m not suggesting rugby will turn into ice hockey, just that in making a change like this you have to look at the consequences in the 1% of cases, not the 99%, so I’m deliberately picking extreme examples as to illustrate why this is a bad idea. If teams can come up with a ploy to fake a blood injury I have no doubt that teams would come up with ploys to take out a play maker if it’s consequence free.

          More common place however will be an increase in cynical play. I’ll concede 3 points to save 7. The threat of a yellow card (where teams will typically concede ~7 points) keeps this largely in check, if this goes we will have deliberate knock ons and players diving all over the ball in the 22, this will kill the spectacle of the game far more than someone getting 10 mins in the bin.

          If you stand to gain more by cheating that you lose for being caught cheating then cheating will become more prevalent. The yellow card is the lesser evil.

          On field appeals treat a symptom, if we focus more on the cause (4 officials getting key decisions incorrect between them) and work on that first this seems like the best way to go.

        • Jay, this may seem as if I am going out of my way to disagree with you. I am not, but again in this case, I do happen to disagree with you!

          Teams do go out of their way to target certain players. In the past, I have certainly been targeted and in turn I have been part of teams who have targeted opposition players.

          Now this is not the highest level (you may be surprised to learn :-)), and I do appreciate that it is rarer when there are refs running the line and lots of TV cameras, citing officers and the like, but I have no doubt it still goes on at that level.

          Irrespective of that, the rules have to be the same for Internationals as for Old Fartonians Extra XV.

          • Blub, you’ve read something into my answer. Of course teams target certain key players to make them less effective or to shut them down, but blatantly or maliciously injure them I believe not. I’ve yet to hear a rugby player talk in that manner about an opponent. Perhaps I just happen to mix with those that don’t do such things.

            Matt, once again we can disagree. I am not as cynical about others as you may be. I don’t see wrong in certain types of people or players or countries for that matter, Rugby is a tough game played by physically strong men. Individuals who are out of line should be punished. I just don’t buy this lesser evil philosophy as it’s the ultimate source of all tyranny. Your arguments sound too much like a politician. You make a case for all the things that may go wrong and how rules and laws must stop them.

            • Blimey, you tick Brighty for something “extrapolated to absurdity”, then compare a yellow card to the source of all tyranny ……

              Yellow cards are needed to stop cynical play where a player would rather concede a 3 point penalty to stop a 7 point chance. It can be argued that the consequence of a yellow card taints the purity of the sporting contest, but this is far more preferable to people killing the ball, preventing tries and turning the contest into a negative penalty fest. This is why they were introduced in the first place.

              The game is better with yellow cards than without it (in my opinion). It may not be perfect, but it is better than the alternative, if that is tyranny, then I’m a tyrant.

              • Tyrant Matt. If having 14 men play 15 to ensure some tries in the 10 minutes of forced rest then it works. If it’s to stop cynical play then it clearly has no effect as the number of cards each weekend is not dropping. We’ve had all these initiatives to increase tries and playing time and instead all we seem to get are more rules and more controversy. You only have to see how many so called qualified commentators have called the BdP tackle as having been made from an offside position to realise that even they are confused by it all.

    • Jay, the point of decrying this behaviour in a rugby forum goes way beyond policing it. We all know we can’t physically stop this behaviour. We can only, by repetition of our disgust, ensure that the perception that rugby doesn’t like and will not tolerate this behaviour persists. By doing this we avoid giving these “fans” any credibility, avoid them thinking they have a home within rugby. In short we try and shame them into no longer having anything to do with rugby. I’m sure that we also, in some small way, help the victims out by them seeing 10,000 voices saying this behaviour is bad instead of just the 100 or so abuse tweets they get. Abuse like this is not seen as such shocking behaviour in some other sports, we want to ensure it remains so in rugby.

      Even starting to suggest that rugby should do something about the reffing of the games to mitigate this happening is dangerous stuff. You’ll be suggesting women should cover up in public next…. Rugby should ensure games are reffed fairly as this is good for the rugby. It has zero duty to morons who think that threats and abuse are a way to get what they want.

      Just telling someone to get over it, you get threatened all the time, etc. is just opening the door to it becoming acceptable, of it just being a bit of “banter”.

      Practically, doing something legal about it is pretty much a non-starter when it crosses continents, as this abuse has.

      • Blighty, your comments were well received up to the nonsense about woman covering up. That is a very strange comment to make in relation to what I have said and an absurd extrapolation of my argument.

        Me saying that rugby should change to mitigate contentious decisions that may inflame supporters is not saying that rugby should do this merely to attempt to stop threats. You’ve read what you wanted from my comments and then extrapolated an absurdity.

        • I’ve read what you’ve said and you have even repeated it here – “rugby should change to mitigate contentious decisions that may inflame supporters”. I couldn’t disagree more. I chose the woman covering up example as a deliberately extreme and, yes, absurd parallel because frankly I think your point is as absurd. Rugby should not ref itself to avoid contentious decisions through fear of inflaming supporters. It should not have to worry about inflaming supporters. Such people would do better to no watch rugby if they can control themselves civilly.

          • Brighty, You are taking a statement so literally and assuming a meaning to “may” that is not the intention of my statement. Just where do I say that through fear of inflaming supporters rugby must change. You interpret my words the way you would like to interpret them not the way they are intended. You therefore see what you want to see in the statement. I cannot help that.

            Supporters drive this sport and pay for it as well. They are important and their views and perceptions are key to growing the fan base. You cannot take 100 idiots who expose extreme views as a means to ignore the very real concerns of the rest of the supporters whose rugby experience is being eroded week by week, by poor adjudicating of this sport.

            “It should not have to worry about inflaming supporters”. I cannot disagree more with that statement.

            • Jay, you didn’t say “May”. You said “should”. You can help how I interpret what you say by stopping saying you didn’t say something when you did. It’s right there above. I will quote it here again word for word.

              “Me saying that rugby should change to mitigate contentious decisions that may inflame supporters is not saying that rugby should do this merely to attempt to stop threats.”

              You then follow with

              “Just where do I say that through fear of inflaming supporters rugby must change.”

              So to answer you again – you said it when you used the words “should change”. I can’t help it if you’re more interested in the semantics than the thrust of the argument. Hopefully now by putting it in black and white you will avoid the political trick of arguing about the words and their meanings and get back to the point which is that Poite should not have to put up with this and that rugby doesn’t owe any keyboard warrior or thug anything beyond trying its best to ref the game with integrity. From what I’ve seen Poite did that. He got it wrong but there was no questioning his belief that he got it right at the time.

              • Rugby should change to avoid contentious decisions. If that means less supporters become inflamed then that is an added bonus. Semantics maybe. My poor English, possibly.

                You say Poite should not have to put up with this. I’m afraid he has to as there is no way to stop it other than to offer the counter argument, That is served by this article but no more can be done. I’ve said that a few times already.

          • Rugby should concentrate on getting a greater percentage of key decisions correct, a pleasant by product of which will be fewer opportunities for the trolls and keyboard warriors to tarnish the reputation of the game. The tail should not wag the dog, the behaviour of people posting things they would never have the courage to say in person should not be the driver to change anything in rugby.

            Avoiding contentious decisions is impossible, not sending someone off (e.g. Tana Umanga) can be just as contentious as sending someone off. The need to take the big decisions is unavoidable, all that matters is getting as many of the key decisions right as practically possible.

            The bile posted (severity and quantity) on the back of the BOD selection decision has sadly removed my rose tinted spectacles, any notion that ‘rugby is better than that’ is now gone for me.

            • I seem either to be blind to these comments or never read them. I generally don’t read comments if at first glance I discern stupidity or absurdity but I accept what you say and assume they must be bad.

              Then again I am not hung up by these people at all. They deserve no comment and should be ignored in my view as anything else just gives them publicity.

  4. Glad to see this has stirred up plenty of debate – many thanks to all those have commented! Some excellent points made, not to mention some I wholly disagree with, but great to see people getting involved.


    • Jamie, it’s an excellent article. We don’t often hear the viewpoint of the man in the middle, so it was a very interesting read.

      • Thanks Matt. I’ve been trying to keep tabs on all the comments, and it seems to have exploded into life in the past few hours. I look forward to reading through them all properly soon.

  5. Rugby is very worth because this very good game and this is intrusting game i like it Rugby and everyone like it and i wish that i see live match of Rugby but i can’t see this and this players are too good played in the ground so that’s it ……

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