‘There’s no bias towards New Zealand’

Six former Springboks on whether referees are favouring New Zealand in both formats of the game.

Joel Stransky (former Bok flyhalf)

‘In general I don't think referees favour New Zealand. However, I think the ref [in the Wellington Sevens Cup final] made a blunder, and I don’t think he had a particularly good final at all, which is quite sad. I think our boys deserved to win it. The All Blacks [Sevens] will be talking about a great comeback, but a couple of the referee's decisions were really poor and all the bad decisions went against us. But in general I’ve been quite impressed recently with referees globally and if we look back now on the World Cup, I think the standard of refereeing was fantastic.’

Gary Teichmann (former Bok No 8)

'I don't believe it's the case that referees favour New Zealand. Unfortunately because New Zealand have dominated world rugby for the last four to five years, calls tend to seem as if they're going their way, we just get the feeling they do. In the sevens … what I don't understand is why, when they had all those international referees, they had a New Zealand-born son [Matt O'Brien] of a New Zealand referee [Paddy O'Brien], refereeing the final. For the game itself there were a lot of 50/50 calls that in my view could have gone either way, but they all seemed to go New Zealand's way.'

Kobus Wiese (former Bok lock)

'I think for the simple reason that we lost and because of the rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand, we as Springbok fans want to use that as the first complaint. If we want to say that, we need to prove it. Although there were some calls that I saw that were dodgy, and the yellow card in a previous game didn't help, to say the referee was blatantly cheating is a hard call. But there were a lot of calls that could have gone either way that ended up going their way, especially in the second half.'

Werner Greeff (former Bok fullback)

'Great captains have a knack to influence and intimidate officials, but at the end of the day the onus is on the referee to make the decisions and that's what Matt O'Brien did on Sunday. I got the sense that there was favouritism towards New Zealand in the Cup final, but I wouldn't go as far as to say refs generally favour New Zealand. Though unfortunate, refs tend to favour home teams. The Blitzboks also got the rub of the green at the Cape Town Sevens, but we didn't moan then. We are too quick to judge when 50/50 calls go against our teams, but turn a blind eye when the same decisions go our way.'

Garry Pagel (former Bok prop)

'There's no bias towards New Zealand, but there is bias towards home teams. People will call us bad losers, but the truth is Matt O'Brien decided the outcome of Sunday's Cup final, which is a shame because both teams put on a great show. There'll always be an element of human error when it comes to refereeing, but when those errors are as blatant as the ones made by O'Brien, it's difficult to believe the man in charge knows the laws. I understand when close calls go the way of the hosts, but I counted at least four breakdown penalties against the Blitzboks in the second half that never should have been awarded. The Blitzboks finished as second best, but it was through no fault of their own.'

Chester Williams (former Bok wing)

‘I won’t say referees favour New Zealand, I just think he [O’Brien] made a few critical errors against South Africa on Sunday, but that’s the way the game goes. Sometimes the referees make errors and sometimes they don’t. It’s how we as coaches and players control ourselves in those situations that matters.’

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