Limit TV referee’s influence, experts plead


Several rugby experts agree that TV officials had hopelessly too much say in the past World Cup rugby tournament and thus detracted from the game.

“In my opinion, the TV official can be consulted, but only at the request of the referee and to point out blatant foul play. He should not necessarily try to put his stamp on the game by rejecting a try because a team made a mistake on the attack five minutes before,” said Conrad Breytenbach, former Blue Bull player.

Sir Steve Hansen, ex-Kiwi knitter, also washed his mouth decently in one of the latest episodes of The Breakdown. Not so much because the Springboks deservedly beat the All Blacks on Saturday, but rather because TV officials – in his opinion – currently have hopelessly too much say in a rugby match.

Hansen, who has won 93 of his 107 tests at the helm of the New Zealanders, says that television referees will definitely have to stand back so that the chief referee can do his job.

“I believe that the TV official should only be heard when the referee asks him if he can award a try or not. These days we have stop/start games and the fans must be tired of that,” said the 64-year-old coach.

In this year’s tournament – just like in 2019 – eight red cards were waved in players’ direction, while Sam Cane became the first player ever to be on the receiving end of a red card decision in a World Cup final.

The All Black captain made contact with Springbok Jesse Kriel’s head in the first half of the titanic duel at the Stade de France; An offense that nowadays has immediate consequences.

Former All Blacks players (read Israel Dagg) and Sir Clive Woodward criticized the decision, but Stefan Terblanche has since confirmed to RNews that the refereeing team was 100% correct in keeping Cane on the field of play – especially when you consider World Rugby’s observe rules and regulations regarding player safety.

The former Springbok winger was part of the disciplinary team at the World Cup and he believes that the players have adapted to the rules.

“Teams have realized that they will have to look at the height of their tackles. For example, South Africa only received two yellow cards in the entire tournament and the Springboks simply decided to defend lower,” said Terblanche.

He added that it was gratifying that no player received a red card for knocking down his opponent in the air.

Although Kobus Wiese understands player safety, he warned in a previous interview with RNews that rugby must not lose its striking power. After all, it is a contact sport.

“Rugby players know that at some point in their careers they are going to be tackled hard. It’s part of the game. Some of the rules are unrealistic and this can negatively affect the game,” said the former Bokslot.

Breytenbach agrees with him: Exaggerated rules and regulations should not be detrimental to the game.

He says rugby can indeed be compared to a game of chess: You have to try strategies to outwit your opponents and play in such a way that the rules count in your favor.

  • Red cards per World Cup:

1987 (two): Huw Richards (Wales) and David Codey (Australia)

1991 (two): Pedro Sporleder (Argentina) and Mat Keenan (Samoa)

1995 (four): Felethi Mahoni (Tonga), Gareth Rees (Canada), Rod Snow (Canada) and James Dalton (South Africa)

1999 (four): Marika Vunibaka (Fiji), Dan Baugh (Canada), Ngalu Taufo’ou (Tonga) and Brendan Venter (South Africa)

2003 (none)

2007 (two): Hale T-Pole (Tonga) and Jacques Nieuwenhuis (Namibia)

2011 (two): Paul Williams (Samoa) and Sam Warburton (Wales)

2015 (one): Agustin Ormaechea (Uruguay)

2019 (eight): John Quill (USA), Facundo Gattas (Uruguay), Ed Fidow (Samoa), Andrea Lovotti (Italy), Thomas Lavanini (Argentina), Josh Larsen (Canada), Bundee Aki (Ireland) and Sebastien Vahaamahina (France)

2023 (eight): Johan Deysel (Namibia), Sam Cane (New Zealand), Tom Curry (England), Vincent Pinto (Portugal), Desideirus Sethie (Namibia), Vaea Fifita (Tonga), Ethan de Groot (New Zealand) and Ben Lam ( Samoa)