Bok coach satisfied with officiating ‘alignment, communication’

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says they are happy with the “alignment” over communication with officials and the feedback framework from World Rugby.

In this past Sunday’s clash between the Wallabies and Boks, referee Luke Pearce was widely credited for his clear communication and decision-making, but there were a couple of occasions late in the game where questions were raised over the manner in which he viewed a sequence of decisive scrums.

On a couple of occasions in the final minutes, the Springboks appeared to have scrum dominance, but were not awarded a penalty that could have earned them crucial territory out of Australian goal-kicking range.

SuperSport pundit and scrum guru Robbi Kempson also shared his views after the game to suggest that the Wallabies should have been caught for scrumming in on the angle in the crucial final set piece of the Test.

At Wednesday’s team announcement media conference, Nienaber said the Boks had closely looked at their own ill-discipline, while adopting a conciliatory tone when addressing the feedback received when it came to post-match communication with officials.

“We’ve got a framework that we work with now, which we probably didn’t know before. It’s the same framework they used in the Six Nations, and obviously us not playing any rugby before the Georgia Test match, we weren’t 100% sure. We didn’t know what the process was.

“But we make our clips like we normally do, and ours went out on Monday – the day after the match, after our review. It went to Joel Jutge [World Rugby’s referee head] and they reviewed it and they came back to us. The purpose of that is to get alignment from our side.

“Everybody makes mistakes. We make mistakes, referees sometimes get things wrong, you can’t get everything right.

“Let’s say a player conceded three penalties, and then the referee will come back and say that was maybe a 50-50 call that could have gone the other way,” Nienaber added. “Or maybe he wasn’t offsides or he didn’t transgress, or we could reward him there at the breakdown. That provides different perspectives on a player’s performance.

“Then obviously that will influence selection. You will look at a player and say you conceded three, but they came back and said two of those weren’t penalties, and that ‘Play on’ would have been a better call. That’s what we want from coaches and our team’s point of view.” 

Nienaber said they hoped to have another meeting on Thursday or Friday to chat with this weekend’s referee, Matthew Carley, and ensure there was clarity between all parties.

“Not all referees are the same in terms of how they interpret the contest and what they would like to see in that contest. It’s something we just aligned again after the Test match. The feedback and work from them has been good, from Joel’s side and the referee’s side. There’s good alignment.”

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Craig Lewis