In recent weeks in the world of rugby there have been some pretty shocking decisions made by the match officials. These have not all been decisions made by the referee on the spur of the moment, but in consultation with his assistants and the Television Match Official(TMO).
Rugby players have always been renowned for treating the officials with respect, but such errors of judgement are clearly causing the players some frustration, and if the expletives issued by the players when shown cards have not been audible, you do not need to have completed a course in lip-reading to know what the player has said to the official.
It is frustrating to fans as well as players and coaches that these decisions have been made incorrectly, and players are harshly being sent to the sin-bin. Ten minutes playing a man down is a huge disadvantage, and can have a massive impact on the outcome of a game.
The powers that be in Rugby who make the laws need to look at the situation before it gets out of hand. Firstly they need to make sure that players are only sent to the sin-bin when they have clearly committed dangerous or repeated fouls. In some of the send offs of late the player has clearly tried to pull out of the challenge. It appears that the officials are more concerned with administering the laws with no latitude, rather than trying to keep the game fifteen-a-side.
The players are understandably becoming frustrated, but the game does not want to sink to the depths of other sports where players harangue and abuse the officials. So maybe those same lawmakers could look to Field Hockey.
First of all maybe the ten-minute spell on the side could be reduced to five minutes for some offences and ten minutes for more serious offences? In addition the time that the player is off the pitch does not start until he sits on the seat on the side. This will stop players arguing or abusing the official, or it will certainly reduce the opportunity to do so.
The coach will want the player sat down as soon as possible so that he can get back on the pitch as quickly as possible.
Rugby has always been very quick to review its laws and one feels if it wants to protect the integrity of the game such a suggestion makes sense. One thing is clear it is only a matter of time before one player loses his cool completely.
The big screens at the stadium make it clear for virtually all to see, so when a TMO makes a decision that defies common-sense and goes against the vision that everyone has seen, it is not surprising that frustration builds.
This needs to be looked at very carefully and changes put in place to protect the game as a whole. Or one feels it is only a matter of time before there is a scene which will do the game a great deal of discredit.