Don't blame the ref

Bill Fotofili Nasova, Suva | Tuesday, December 19, 2017
IN response to fellow correspondent Richard Abel's letter titled 7s series in this newspaper's Wednesday (13/12/17) edition, I wish to categorically state that the ref is not to be blamed for Fiji's back-to -back losses.

The writer claims that in Dubai, the ref cost us the game by being unfair with some of his decisions.

I would love to get feedback on those instances the ref made unfair calls because after watching the replay, there's hardly any evidence of the ref being biased.

In Cape Town, I saw nothing wrong with the ref, except for a stripped ball in an ensuing ruck, which prised the ball loose, and Senatla pounced and ran away untouched for South Africa's final and winning try.

In this case, the ref consulted his touch judge — who gave the thumbs up — before awarding the try.

However, just take a glimpse of what the ref did in the opening minute.

He adjudged Veremalua to be high tackled, preventing him from scoring, and awarded Fiji a penalty try.

Senatla, the high tackler, was sinbinned. Now, isn't that great refereeing?

The crux of the matter is that in international rugby, referees are always 'under the microscope' and perform under a lot of scrutiny.

You have the two touch judges, the TMO (technical match official), the players, the spectators, and above all, the referees panel.

There is no room for erroneous decisions — or worse still — bias.

Really, there is very little scope for refs to lower their integrity and resort to dirty tactics.

Of course, referees are bound to make an error of judgment, but it does not mean that they are favouring one team at the expense of the other.

After all, they are just humans.

So, next time our national team loses a crucial match, please show restraint and not use the age-old blame game and "putting the ref to the sword". Be gracious in defeat because we lost to a better team on the day.

Our team can only regroup and come back with a vengeance in the next leg.

Remember, the Cape Town winners New Zealand went 21 months without winning a tournament and not once did they pick on the referee.

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