IRB admit Rolland made mistake
THE AUSTRALIAN Rugby Union has strongly criticised Irish referee Alain Rolland after the International Rugby Board (IRB) admitted he’d been wrong in his decision to make the Wallabies finish with 14 men against the Springboks in their 31-8 defeat in Pretoria last weekend.
Despite approval from the fourth official, Rolland ruled the Wallabies could not make a replacement between Saia Fainga’a and injured hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau in the 73rd minute due to Australia exhausting their seven substitutions. With Polota-Nau unable to continue, the referee made Australia finish the game a man down.
But after reviewing the incident, the IRB declared on Wednesday night Rolland and his match officials were wrong, having messed up a replacement in the 67th minute between prop Benn Robinson and an injured Ben Alexander. Under Law 3.12, frontrowers who have been subbed off can come back on the field if another prop is injured, without it counting as a substitution, to ensure safe scrummaging.
The match was delayed for several minutes as Rolland explained his decision to irate Wallaby officials before Springbok winger Bryan Habana took advantage of the extra space to score his third try of the game.
“The referee was correct,” the Dublin-based IRB’s James Fitzgerald said on Wednesday only for the sport’s governing body to issue a statement later to say Rolland was wrong. “Following an initial review, the five-strong match official team acknowledges that they failed to recognise Law 3.12 (Exception 2) when managing a substitution in the 66th minute, which meant that Australia finished the match with 14 players,” the statement said.
“The area of substitution management is a team effort,” IRB match official selection committee chairman John Jeffrey said. “This was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials who fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of the substitution law.
“All match official performances, including last weekend’s match, are thoroughly reviewed and assessed by the IRB and are considered when appointments are made for future test matches.”
The IRB did not say if Rolland and his team would be penalised for the error, with the Dubliner due to take charge of the Springboks’ final championship match at home to champions New Zealand tomorrow in Johannesburg.
Meanwhile, winger Hosea Gear has been recalled to the New Zealand side for the Johannesburg clash. Gear replaces Julian Savea, who produced his best game for the All Blacks in his short Test career last week against Argentina where he scored two tries and set up one of Cory Jane’s three tries in the 54-15 win that clinched the title for the All Blacks.
Coach Steve Hansen made just one other change to the starting side that demolished the Pumas with lock Brodie Retallick coming off the bench for Luke Romano, who shifts back to the replacements. South Africa will field an unchanged starting side.
NEW ZEALAND: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, H Gear; D Carter, A Smith; Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, S Whitelock, L Messam, R McCaw (capt), K Read. Replacements: K Mealamu, B Franks, L Romano, A Thomson, P Weepu, A Cruden, T Ellison.
SOUTH AFRICA: Z Kirchner; B Habana, J Taute, J de Villiers, F Hougaard; J Goosen, R Pienaar; T Tawarira, A Strauss, J du Plessis, E Etzebeth, A Bekker, F Louw, W Alberts, D Vermeulen. Replacements: T Liebenberg, C Oosthuizen, F van der Merwe, M Coetzee, E Jantjies, J de Jongh, P Lambie.