Of­fi­cials in the dock

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

Three teams ex­ist on a mod­ern rugby field. The of­fi­cials in­creas­ingly be­ing the most im­por­tant.

It’s about con­trol. Wayne Barnes was charged with keep­ing a lid on bub­bling an­i­mos­ity be­tween Mun­ster and Cas­tres. Con­sid­er­ing no­body was in­jured, this was achieved but the game so eas­ily could have ended in tragedy. Peter O’Ma­hony looked a cen­time­tre off be­ing flipped onto his neck when Marc-An­toine Ral­lier tack­led and tipped him “beyond the hor­i­zon­tal,” as Barnes noted, de­spite the fact the Mun­ster cap­tain never re­ceived the ball. Joey Car­bery missed the penalty – which proved very costly in a 13-12 de­feat – as Ral­lier was only sin binned.

That was the third team’s op­por­tu­nity– es­pe­cially Tele­vi­sion Match Of­fi­cial Rowan Kitt – to leave a mark on this fe­ro­cious con­test, be­cause other in­ci­dents re­quire foren­sic anal­y­sis; Chris Cloete ap­peared to be eye gouged, Sammy Arnold told Barnes about an­other atro­cious act as ev­ery­one left the field at half-time.

“All I can say is the val­ues of rugby are pretty im­por­tant. I thought we stayed within the val­ues of rugby tonight and hope that due process will be fol­lowed,” said a diplo­matic Jo­hann van Graan af­ter­wards.

Over to the cit­ing of­fi­cer, Chris Catling. In fair­ness to Barnes, a less ex­pe­ri­enced ref­eree would have ca­pit­u­lated, and if you are un­sure or can barely hear your TMO, a ref­eree’s pri­mary role is to en­sure play restarts with a de­ci­sion, right or wrong. Sev­eral were wrong.

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