Officials in the dock
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.