Well, Rugby World Cup 2011 came to an end on Sunday when the All Blacks defeated the brave French 8 – 7. The only difference being a penalty that Stephen Donald got over. Or did he?
Before we go any further – let me say congratulations to the All Blacks for winning the World Cup. The New Zealand public had been building the pressure on their team for 24 years since the last time they won it. But then I’m going to add a caviate to my congratulations and say they deserved to win, but maybe they had a hand from the referees in being able to win.
People can say that the South African public like to believe there is a conspiracy theory against the Boks all they want but this game didn’t involve the Springboks. The referee was South African though but reports to a New Zealand boss.
There have been so many games in this Rugby World Cup where the referee had a direct influence on the result of the match that there are many people questioning whether the whole result was rigged right from the beginning.
The Springboks came into the World Cup on the back of a victory against the All Blacks. Their first game was against the Welsh which we narrowly won by 1 point. I can’t remember the score but the game was close. Many people wrote the Springboks off as a team that wouldn’t trouble the All Blacks when the time came. But then the games against Fiji and Namibia came and going into the last week of round robin play in the pools arrived and the Springboks had a better points difference than the might All Blacks and the All Blacks messiah, Dan Carter, was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a groin injury. The last game against Samoa was a scrappy, niggly affair where the referee turned a blind eye to the intimidation and off-the-ball tactics of the Samoans who were more interested in picking a fight than playing rugby.
The Springboks lost their biggest asset in the backline, Francois Steyn, to injury from the game for the rest of the tournament. Due to Australia losing to Ireland in their pool, they were destined to meet South Africa in the quarter finals. Many said that Australia had lost due to the incompetent handling of the scrum by Bryce Lawrence (remember the name). Bryce even came out after the game and admitted that he had been poor in his handling of the game.
Bryce’s father, Keith Lawrence, had a bit of a brain fart in the nineties when as a referee he sent an e-mail to the Australian referee association (and copied in the South African referee association) saying they needed to “teach the Japies (South Africans)” a lesson. Bryce comes from such brilliant stock, doesn’t he?
Funnily enough, Bryce Lawrence was appointed to the South Africa/Australia game. Why would a referee who admitted to being poor be elevated to referreeing one of the biggest games in the tournament?
The South African quarter-final was another poor referreeing performance by the same Bryce Lawrence who allowed the Australian’s David Pocock to spoil and break every rule in the book. Now I don’t blame Pocock – as the fetcher his task is to bend the rules as far as the referee will allow. Bryce just let him bend them until they were completely broken. Something he didn’t allow the South Africans to do.
South Africa lost 9 – 11 and were on their way home. Admittedly, we could have avoided this fate, if we’d only taken one of two penalties in the first half instead of kicking to the corner.
If South Africa was viewed at such a fate, the only other team which had beat the Boks (other than the Australians) would be just as dangerous and that was Wales. Wales had beaten Ireland to advance to the semi-finals against France. France, their opposition, had been viewed as a weaker team as they had already lost to New Zealand as well as Tonga.
The referee for the Wales/France semi-final was Nigel Owens. Nigel Owens – the same tosspot who had made such a hash of the South Africa/Samoa game. He went into the game trying to make amends for a showing which had been too lenient by being far too pedantic. Eighteen minutes into the game the Welsh Captain, Sam Warburton, carried out a “tip tackle” on French winger, Vincent Clerc. Did it deserve a card? Yes. Did it deserve a red card? I’m not so sure.
France went on to win the semi-final by a single point and there is no doubt that if Warburton hadn’t been sent off they would have been in the final and viewed as a much harder opponent than France.
The IRB, in my opinion, are a bunch of stuck-up snobs who have different rules for different teams.
England was guilty (and admitted to it) of swopping balls when former wunderkind Johnny Wilkinson was kicking for posts against Romania. It’s an actual rule in the law book that teams aren’t allowed to do this. The punishment? Absolutely nothing. Why would you punish the country which is really your home base? In the same week, a Samoan player wore a branded mouth guard – his punishment? A $10,000. It seems as though the IRB favour money over following their own rules.
The same IRB have also turned the All Blacks into a protected species better than any other team playing the game. It’s a rule (although God only knows why) that the opposition team has to line up at least 20 metres away from the All Blacks as they perform their dance, the haka. The French broke this rule when they advanced to the halfway line (10m) during the haka and they were fined £ 10,000 (that’s £ 1,000 a metre).
So congratulations to the All Blacks for winning the RWC 2011 FINALLY.
And congratulations to Paddy O’Brein and the rest of the referees in ensuring they did.