Rugby: Play the Ball or Play the Ref?
The Rugby World Cup Quarter-Finals have come and gone and so have some of the tournament's big guns with England being upset by a spirited French team and South Africa letting a marginal lead slip with a few minutes to go before the final whistle.
There would be many talking points after some enthralling matches yet the debate on everyone's lips seems to be that of the Springbok game and the role Bryce Lawrence had played in the result. David Pocock had menaced the breakdowns and was Australia's key figure in the match disrupting all momentum for the Springboks at every single ruck and tackle. Although the effort was undoubtedly immense, question marks remain over wether it was always legal and wether Bryce Lawrence had missed a very good game.
It has been years since I last watched a match where the referee had such a clean game that the words "leave it" , "ruck formed" or "you're off your feet" did not have to leave his mouth and although this was the scene in this game, the reason behind this is not as clear. David Pocock played the referee like an orchestra and dramatic music would have been suited to the situation as he was wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims.
The one point that should be made is that Bryce Lawrence did not favour the Australians, but rather had absolutely no control over a delicate and marginal area of the game. David Pocock capitalized on any fetchers dream and were it not for the injury to Heinrich Brussow I am sure he would have joined the party. The question that remains is is this what professional rugby has come to?
Is a match decided by the team that played better rugby, or can even the smallest of teams beat the All Blacks by reading the referee and infringing accordingly? The Springboks were no saints in this match by going off their feet on several occasions and the match was not decided by turnover ball but rather the Wallabies immense defence and Springboks lack of precision. The irony was that the defending world champs were defended out of the World Cup.Continued on the next page