Super Rugby

Stormers boss slams ‘robbing’ referee Stuart Berry




Western Province Rugby Union Boss Thelo Wakefield has slammed South African referee Stuart Berry by saying that he robbed his team in the match against the Lions.

Berry was in charge of the Lions v Stormers match in Johannesburg which the Lions won 29-22 but Wakefield says his team were robbed by “the man in the middle”

Criticism of Berry is becoming all too familiar as three weeks ago the Crusaders left Johannesburg where they had played the Lions under Berry and then called for neutral referees.

Last week Australian website The Roar did extensive research on penalty distribution in Super Rugby and the referee who produced the most concern was Berry.

Two season ago in 2014 the Lions went from being 3-20 down against the Reds in Johannesburg to winning 23-20 as Berry penalised the Queenslanders 10-1 in the second half.

The result left the then Reds coach Richard Graham frustrated and after the match he said,”The penalty count was 19-4 against us, I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a game where the penalty count has been like that,”.

”Certainly we will be speaking to Lyndon Bray, the referees boss to get clarification.”

Former Springbok coach Mallett, speaking on SuperSport after the game between the Lions and Reds in 2014 also slammed Berry.

“Stuart Berry spent his entire second half looking only at the Reds,” said Mallett. “It was a shocking performance,” said Mallett.

A week earlier the Lions beat the Blues 39-36 in Johannesburg under Berry missed a clear Lions knock on near the tryline which led to a Lions victory.

The knock on was so blatant that SANZAR said the try should not have been awarded,” This should have been ruled as a knock on and subsequently, no try,” said Referees Boss Lyndon Bray in 2014.

WP Boss Wakefield went on to Facebook after the Stormers loss to the Lions on the weekend and said, “I really cannot describe the atmosphere in the change room. Sadness.”

“Disappointment, robbed!!! We remain gracious in defeat. I have never felt so sad. Have a good night’s rest ‘Man in the middle’”.

Whilst Wakefield did not directly name Berry in his message it is clear who he means with his “man in the middle” comments.

On Sunday Wakefield told Independent Media that referees need to be more accountable for their actions on the field.

“Your hands are tied when it comes to this sort of thing. You have respect the rules of Saru,” Wakefield said.

“But the referees are always protected, much better than the rhino. For them to admit that they are wrong is like paying a traffic fine – an admission of guilt.

“It’s always been the Stormers’ motto that if we win we are humble in victory, but if we lose we are gracious in defeat. We don’t get big-headed and we take our punches like men.

“But how long can you keep quiet about these sorts of things?”

SANZAR rules prohibit any criticism of match officials and Wakefield says that South African referees are “better protected than the rhino”.

Fans have also been quick to point out on social media that Berry ignored Lions back Lionel Mapoe coming into contact with Stormers prop Oli Kebble’s face and Berry seemed to miss both sets of backlines getting away with forward passes.

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