Former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes has called for referees to be able to communicate in the languages of both teams during a game.
Writing in his weekly column for The Sunday Times UK, Barnes was left frustrated by the fact that referee English referee Matthew Carley ‘coached’ players in English during this past weekend’s European Champions Cup match between Ulster and Clermont.
‘There were two major problems with this,’ Barnes wrote. ‘Communication bias [inadvertently] in favour of the Ulster team and, worse, the constant chatter throughout the live action that makes up the majority of the time on the field … To have a referee bellowing commands only one side understands represents an unacceptable disadvantage.
‘To be able to communicate with fluency in the heat of the battle requires an expertise that cannot be expected,’ Barnes explained. ‘Referees should refrain from live “assistance” if either participant speaks another tongue. Internationals know the laws.
‘England’s last game of the Six Nations is in Rome. Imagine if [referee] Pascal Gaüzère decided to follow the Carley route and cajoled the players for 80 minutes — but solely in Italian. English fans would be furious at the obvious injustice of it. The RFU would complain and World Rugby would act.
‘English-speaking professionals are not expected to be bilingual, so why should their counterparts? Yet unless they do speak English, rival teams are not competing on a level playing field.’
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