Rugby Championship News

Henry pleads for refs to open their eyes





All Black coach Graham Henry has once again pleaded to Test referees to open their eyes to off-the-ball cheap shots and the gamesmanship creeping into the international game.

Coming on the eve of the Tri-nations clash between South Africa and New Zealand, the plea is clearly referring to the alleged targetting of Richie McCaw by the Boks in Durban three weeks ago.

“Players are not expecting to be hit off the ball when they’re running to a tackle area or whatever it may be. They’re not ready for it so that can be very dangerous and cause serious injury,” Henry said to the NZPA.

“We do discuss those things with the officials and we hope they pick them up but it’s not something that we dwell on.”

Henry’s comments on gamesmanship were also a reference to the intimidation of referees by the more experienced players.

Players such as George Gregan of Australia and Lawrence Dallaglio of England have made constant chatter to referees a feature of their game over the past few years, and Henry said it was a learning process for referees to cope with this.

“Refereeing is about strength of character, not being deviated by gamesmanship, and just refereeing what you see,” Henry said.

“There are some strong referees around the world who can do that. Some are learning to do that.

“It’s just when you get caught up in the learning process that you might get stung.

“Referees have got to experience big test matches and sometimes in that learning curve you get caught up in something that you say `well, that wasn’t that good’.”

Henry has become more and more outspoken on the topic of match officials as the Rugby World Cup has neared, with many seeing it as a sign of nervousness, particularly given that his team is not performing to the level it was at last year.

He has stated more than once that Test referees tend to favour home sides, pointing to statistics that back up his argument, and he is also concerned that officials from the Northern Hemisphere are struggling to cope with the speed of the Southern henisphere game.

“The game’s a lot slower (in Europe) and I don’t think quick ball at the tackle area is a huge part of the game,” Henry said.

“When Northern Hemisphere referees referee a Southern Hemisphere contest, I don’t think they understand the value of quick ball at the tackle.

“That is a problem because they’re not used to it so … if you referee 90 Northern Hemisphere games and then you’ve got this game in which (teams) are trying to get quick ball at the tackle, you’re the only one who doesn’t understand it.”
365 Digital

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.