Former South African referee Jonathan Kaplan says New Zealand ref Bryce Lawrence froze during the 2011 quarter-final between the Springboks and Wallabies.
The Wallabies beat the Springboks 11-9 to progress to the 2011 World Cup semi-final – where they were beaten by hosts and eventual champions the All Blacks.
However, that quarter-final is most remembered for the performance by New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence. While the Springboks had the majority of possession, their momentum was consistently stifled by the Wallabies’ pack – who were given the freedom to contest the breakdowns.
In particular, Wallabies flank David Pocock had a field day as Lawrence allowed several infringements to go unpunished. The match would be Lawrence’s final Test match as he was left out of New Zealand’s nine-man elite referee panel before announcing his retirement in 2012.
In an interview with Sport24, Kaplan said Lawrence was among the best referees in the world at the time and while he did not want to jump on the bandwagon against his former colleague, he thinks Lawrence did not have his best performance on the big stage.
‘He was considered to be in the top four or five referees in the world,’ Kaplan said. ‘He was given the plum quarter-final and didn’t put his best foot forward
‘I think he froze. I don’t subscribe to all this other nonsense. I think he froze on the big occasion and in actual fact, he didn’t make decision, which was his undoing. It wasn’t that he made so many bad decisions, I mean he did make some, but we all do. But I think he was almost… I wouldn’t say too frightened… but he was trying to do something that wasn’t in line with his profile.
‘There were only 10 penalties in the game, there was a lot of stuff that was happening around those rucks and it was an unfortunate ending. I am not on that bandwagon, Bryce was a colleague at the time, and I’d have no problem having a few beers with him, even though I don’t think he did well in that game. I think by his own admission, there are some things that he didn’t do well.’
Photo: REUTERS/Anthony Phelps