Former Wales captain Paul Thorburn has called World Rugby out for making the game too law-ridden as its misconduct case against SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus is set to get under way.
Director of rugby Erasmus and his employers were formally charged by World Rugby following his producing a video in which he criticised match officials during the series against the British & Irish Lions.
During the 62-minute video, Erasmus highlighted a host of officiating discrepancies in the first Test of the series.
England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Australia have reportedly applied pressure on World Rugby to make an example of Erasmus with a lengthy suspension from the game, a fine for SA Rugby and some have even suggested that South Africa could be stripped of their series win.
Speaking to WalesOnline, Thorburn, who played for Wales between 1985 and 1991, said that while Erasmus was out of order with his public criticism of officials, World Rugby should not be exempt from the blame as they have made the game too difficult to referee.
“We have a situation now where there is technology available for match officials to take advantage of,” Thorburn said. “It’s not like in the days when I was playing when a referee made a decision in the heat of the moment and had to stand or fall by it. Nowadays, an official and his colleagues can go back and look at a call again to make sure they are right.
“Really, there can be no reason for wrong decisions any more, other than to suggest World Rugby have made the game so law-ridden that it’s become an absolute minefield.
“In that respect blame lies with World Rugby. I’ve had a go at [World Rugby chairperson] Bill Beaumont and his trusted lieutenants before, but they’ve created an absolute monster.
“There are so many laws in the game, and laws have always been subject to interpretation by players and the officials. For a casual observer it must be hugely difficult to understand.
“A ball-carrier is held up now and gets his knee on the floor. You then have to think at what point was his knee on the floor? Was it as part of the tackle or after it? And so it goes on.
“There is so much that’s complicated and contestable. In that respect, it’s not hard to understand why a coach might become frustrated.
“Rugby used to be a simple game, but it isn’t any more. To be honest, I didn’t even watch the last 20 minutes of the final Test given how boring the previous two Tests had been. The golden goose of world rugby, a Lions series, turned into one of the most disappointing sporting events I’ve seen.
“It took place at the same time as the Olympics. If you were a person wondering what sport to take part in, you wouldn’t want to be involved in rugby. We saw some fabulous BMX biking and skateboarding exploits in the Olympics. Those sports are simple, easy to understand and full of action. Then you switch over and have a look at the Lions series.
“I wouldn’t want any of my family to ever be involved in rugby. I say that on the basis of that series and on the way rugby is going.
“So, while Erasmus faces being wrapped on the knuckles, I’d also like to turn it around and say World Rugby should take a good look at themselves. Those responsible for making the game what it’s become need to think carefully about whether they are in the right positions.”
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile via Getty Images