Sevens refereeing an embarrassment

New Zealand-based rugby writer MARK REASON says the Blitzboks had every right to complain about referee Matt O'Brien after the Wellington Sevens Cup final.

Brendan Venter, the former Springbok centre and current technical director of Saracens, has called for an investigation. And it is not cricket in Mumbai or tennis in St Petersburg that Venter is concerned about, but rugby in Wellington, the home of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

The Boks are outraged by both the refereeing of their pool match and their final against New Zealand at the Wellington sevens and while it may go against the grain to feel empathy with a South African rugby supporter, they have a point.

The officiating of both those matches made any neutral observer wonder what the hell was going on.

The penalty count in the final was 9-1 in favour of New Zealand.

Let's start with the final. The penalty count in that match was 9-1 in favour of New Zealand and they were not the dominant side. Every marginal call went their way. They got away with forward passes and knock-ons, while South Africa were penalised, once quite crucially, for knock-ons that seemed to have propelled the ball back out of the hand.

New Zealand were allowed to do whatever they liked at the breakdown.

They came in from ludicrously offside positions to clean out, notably in an important try scored by Rieko Ioane.

In contrast South Africa were penalised at one breakdown even when the men in black were not competing for the ball.

Read the rest of Reason's column

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt