It's another Super Rugby season and with it comes another bunch of confusion and frustration over inconsistent rulings after the referees once again bring in a new emphasis in another futile bid to clear up the breakdown area.
Last week, both the Blues' and Crusaders' fetchers grizzled about the rulings of highly rated Kiwi ref Chris Pollock at Eden Park, saying the promised crackdown on players illegally blocking the opposition or preventing the quick recycle of ball on the ground had not eventuated, while a night later at Waikato Stadium Jonathan White implemented the new get-tough approach.
Then in Hamilton again last Friday night Keith Brown came down heavily on the attacking team illegally sealing off their own ball through players going off their feet – at least he did against the Chiefs – while not being quite so tough on the illegalities of defenders.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie and skipper for the night Craig Clarke were far from impressed at what they perceived as unequal treatment.
Considering they can be censured and fined for criticising officials and were holding back because of it, Rennie in particular left little doubt he was seething. "I'm trying to be tactful here but we got penalised in possession when we were going forward, for hands on the ground and things like that but we were the only side that got penalised for that tonight and a penalty count of 16-4 [in favour of the Blues] is a massive concern for us," Rennie said. "We didn't think it was an accurate indication."
Clarke said Brown had mentioned two or three times to him during the match that the Chiefs players were leaving their feet when their team had the ball.
"That was fair enough the way the Blues attacked the breakdown with one or two guys and there's nothing in behind that, so that's a technique thing that we can fix," Clarke said.
Rennie quickly pointed out he was not disputing the accuracy of most of the calls against his team. "But it only seemed to be going one way," he said.