If I say that the controversy surrounding rugby referee Craig Joubert is no more than a media invention, no doubt many people will disagree...
"NO," I can hear it now, "it's no invention, he got it horrendously wrong and spoiled a magnificent rugby match!"
Well, he did indeed get it wrong, yes. He made a mistaken call, and awarded a penalty in error, which resulted in 3 points to Australia which gave them the lead right at the end of their pulsating Rugby World Cup quarter final against Scotland.
Many people had written off the Scots as no hopers, so to see them give the Aussies a good seeing to, with a win looking on the cards, was exciting for the neutral fan like myself.
I had enjoyed watching Wales battle against South Africa the previous day, also going down to a very late score, but in that match the score was a great try, worthy of a last minute win.
To win at the death with a penalty that should never have been awarded is, to put it mildly, unsatisfactory.
It's inevitable then, that the spotlight should fall on the ref, Craig Joubert.
He's been roundly criticised after the match, by players and pundits alike, firstly for not refering the decision to the TV Match Official (TMO), and secondly for hotfooting it off the pitch after blowing the final whistle, rather than staying on and shaking hands with players as is the norm.
The replays showed that it shouldn't have been a penalty, and had Joubert gone to the TMO, the mistaken decision could have been corrected. So, since the TMO is used for pretty much every try nowadays, why didn't he?
The simple answer is that he wasn't allowed to. The rules state that the TMO is only for scoring plays, or foul play. Since this incident was neither, he wasn't allowed to use the TMO.
That settles that one!
As for running off the pitch, it might seem odd, yes, but he *did* have a bottle thrown at him, and after seeing the replays of the incident on the big screens, he would have been all too aware that he had made a howling error.
So why do I say the controversy is a media invention..?
Well, refs make mistakes in rugby, they always have. Refs make mistakes in all sports, they always will. When you're making split second decisions in front of huge crowds, in massive games, mistakes can be magnified, no more so than this one!
Some sports are better than others at accepting ref mistakes. Football, for example, is notoriously bad. The players argue and intimidate the ref, so do the managers, and so does the media, because it makes easy stories to sell papers.
Rugby is, by and large, good at it. The players call the ref 'Sir,' and pundits tend to put mistakes down as, well, mistakes, and they just move on.
The papers are whipping this one up into a frenzy, and it's up to the rugby community to get things back to a sensible level - a bad mistake, made at the worst possible time, unfortunate, but these things happen.
That's what I'd like to see, rather than the approach of some of the papers, which would see Joubert lynched if he set foot in Scotland again. If it were down to me, I'd put him in the middle for the Scotland v. England game next February - get it over and done with in one fell swoop!
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