The Super 14 Sharks: Referee Sinks

Ian TaitCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2010

Ok, so it has taken me four weeks to watch my first Super 14 game of the season and judging by what I saw I am very glad I did not watch the first three.

Well that is not quite fair. I have been watching the highlights on Super Sport Blitz and it's no surprise that the Blue Bulls are playing fantastic rugby, scoring tries, and playing an expansive game. Even the supposedly kicking fly half, going by the name of Morne Steyn, has scored three tries this season—in fact he has scored more points than what the Sharks have scored.

Well, given the state of the way that my beloved Sharks have performed this season, this next topic is going to sound like sour grapes, but as a coach and a referee I feel rocks for what my people say.

Cheating in sport is not acceptable and never will be.

I have a saying for people that cheat while playing golf—like those guys that kick a golf ball further on so that their shot is not played from behind a tree; “Cheating at golf is like faking an orgasm while masturbating .”

Curtly Beale is a cheat and he should be banned from rugby for at least six months. A yellow card was not punishment enough for what he did. If ever there was an example for a professional foul that was it. When you deliberately slap a ball down to prevent a try from being scored the sanction should have been a Red Card and a penalty try should have been awarded.

Paul Marks, the referee, was so inconsistent on the field. In fact, I would go as far as to say that he is a cheat.

The first yellow card for Jannie Du Plessis was on and John Plumtree should have benched him for tripping a player.I can't believe a doctor could be so stupid.

The second Yellow Card about two minutes later was not acceptable. The law states that if a ball is not covered by a player bound and on his feet it is deemed to be out. The fact the Andy Goode came from behind his try line to pick the ball up, a ball that was out, and then gets binned is unbelievable.

When the Australian commentators (the worst and most biased commentators in the world) say the call is harsh you must know that you have messed up as a referee.

As the game progressed it became clear that the inconsistencies were going to impact the result of the game.

The amount of penalties awarded against the Sharks for not rolling away was staggering in the first half. But, the inconsistencies really became clear in the second half when the tables turned and the Sharks fought their way back into the game, forcing the Warathas to defend.

Scrums would be awarded where penalties should have been given. At one stage in the 65th minute there were three infringements where the tackler did not move away, thereby preventing quick balls to the Sharks and point scoring opportunities.

If a Yellow Card had been issued as was the case with Andy Goode, the numbers would have made a major impact on the game. But, this did not happen even after Paul Marks spoke to Phil Waugh.

The fact the Jon Smit and John Plumtree have been so diplomatic, protecting referees at all costs, is a shame to the state of rugby.

Marks should be called in front of the Panel and told that he can go back to ref club rugby, because that is all that he is capable of controlling.

As for Steve Welsh there was a reason that NZR had cut ties with him. Now, staying in Australia, one can see that he has got the same syndrome that Paul Marks has. It is very simple with Super 14 rugby, pick the best referees and let them ref. If the junior referees want to get to this level they must up their game.

The problem is that the refereeing at the moment is crap—Kaplan, Lawrence, Joubert, and Jonker are the only guys that are doing sterling work. Bryce Lawrence messed up so badly on Saturday night with a blatant Spear Tackle on Juan Smith. Bryce, sanctions for the spear tackle start with a Red Card, then you work your way down. The fact that Kaplan had to explain this to you is beyond belief.

Short of a miracle or a major change of game play, the Sharks will be very lucky to make the playoffs. Only time will tell. Let’s just hope that the standard of refereeing will improve in the weeks to come.

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