Editorial: Interesting rugby times

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014

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OPINION: What an interesting couple of weeks for the South Canterbury Rugby Union.

First it receives a complaint from a spectator about the actions of a player; then an assistant coach abuses a referee in a schoolboy game (the referee himself being a schoolboy); and thirdly a crucial match ends with a disputed score that takes video evidence to sort out.

What's happening here? Is the game in disarray?

To which the answer is no. What it has are some passionate followers who have presented challenging situations for officials.

Yet the officials have handled the situations well.

In the first case the union did not have to accept the complaint from the spectator but it did in the wider interests of the game. You could argue that sets a less-than-ideal precedent for the future but it is a rare situation.

When the union looked at the case it could find no evidence to substantiate the complaint - matter closed.

Action was required in the second case and stern action was taken - the longest suspension in the union's history to someone for abuse.

We can all disagree with referees' decisions at times but there are limits to how far you take it.

This case involved excessive abuse, came from an adult assistant coach directed at a 15-year-old referee, and was done in a game involving two sides from the same school with the players under 14-and-a-half.

Not much more needs to be said. You just don't do that. The 12-week suspension is entirely appropriate. So, too, are the lesser punishments to two other players, as is their chance to reduce their suspensions if they go through a restorative process. Some carrot with the stick.

And what to do when two teams finish a knockout match with each considering they have done enough to win?

Hear them out and assess other evidence, which showed in fact a draw. What now? What would have happened if everyone had known that in the first place? Extra time. Let's do that then. This Saturday.

Unusual? Certainly. Appropriate? You bet.

And won't there be a lot of interest in that game? Short as it is.

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- The Timaru Herald

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