If there has been one constant gripe throughout the 2021 rugby season, it’s refereeing standards and consistency across the board. It’s an area of officiating which is almost impossible to perfect every time, and the debate reared its head again last weekend.
The nation which has led a lot of the efforts to, in their mind, improve refereeing standards and remove the 50/50 calls has been South Africa and the pundit team on SuperSport’s The Final Whistle focused the microscope on the scrums which ultimately had the biggest impact in the Springboks’ loss to Australia.
Scrums are notoriously difficult to referee – this isn’t the first time inconsistencies have been brought up in international rugby – with the referee on one side and his Assistant Referee (AR) on the other, more often than not, blinded by at least one player.
Former Springbok assistant coach Swys de Bruin and former Test prop Robbie Kempson agreed to disagree in what proved to be a debate which typifies the way in which refereeing decisions are seen at the moment.
Kempson counted two scrum penalty decisions which were largely correct in his view, while stating that three should have gone the other way, including the final instance which gave Quade Cooper the chance to win the match.
De Bruin used this fact to call for more simplification and clearer calls for scrum penalties, which he conceded ended up being more of a 50/50 call depending on which side has the forward momentum.
It’s a debate which continues to cause frustration and confusion throughout the rugby sphere but one which, given more scrutiny, can hopefully be resolved before long.