Alain Rolland had a poor night on Friday but referees are not being helped by authorities
I hate talking about referees, especially after Munster lose, but I stand by my criticism
Alan Quinlan believes referee Alain Rolland was wrong to award a penalty against Paul O’Connell and issue him with a yellow card, and thus deny Munster at least a bonus point, Quinlan believes, in theirRabo Direct Pro 12 29-19 defeat against Ulster at Ravenhill. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
There’s no denying I was a bit frustrated on television the other night after Ulster’s win over Munster. I ended up causing a bit of a stir for what I said about Alain Rolland’s performance. When I thought about it afterwards, I was angry with myself because in general I hate to start talking about referees straight after a game. But when a referee has such an impact by making bad errors, you can’t ignore it.
Referees can’t be immune from criticism as long as it’s done in the right way.
There’s no point giving out about 50-50 decisions because those will always exist. They exist in every sport and they’re part and parcel of every game.
You will never read or hear me criticise someone for getting a 50-50 call wrong in the heat of battle. That’s for fellas in pubs to do when they’re supporting their own team.
When it’s your job to analyse, it’s different. And the most glaring thing that came out of that game on Friday night was a couple of poor refereeing decisions had cost one team a chance at at least a bonus point and possibly a win.
I don’t think Munster would have deserved the win if they’d managed it because Ulster were the better team – but that’s a different argument.
I especially hate talking about referees after Munster lose. I have learned over the past two-and-a-half years you have to say what you feel when you’re analysing a game, no matter what assumptions people watching are going to make about you.
Some people will question your motives and will make up their own mind no matter what you say. Some people will obviously judge my analysis on the basis that I played for Munster my whole career.
But I can’t not criticise a referee for his mistakes just because it was Munster who suffered. I did that occasionally when I started out because I was afraid people would see it as sour grapes. But you can’t do that. You have to be honest and say what you feel.
I would have said the exact same thing on Friday night if Rolland had given the same calls against Ulster or Leinster or Connacht, or any team.
I should say from the start I have a lot respect for Rolland as a referee and always have. God knows, I was never an easy player to referee but I always found he was one of those refs who would explain his decisions to you.
In a way, the player-referee relationship is a bit like the teacher-pupil one – if a pupil is unruly, the teacher won’t get him to behave by just dismissing him. That was the one thing that drove me mad when I was playing, a referee just waving me away. It would just multiply whatever level of frustration I felt.
In fairness to Rolland, that wasn’t his way. He reffed me plenty of times over the years and we rarely had a problem. I didn’t always agree with his decisions but that probably says more about me than it does about him. He is quite strict as a referee but he is very clear and precise. I tested his patience but he was a guy you couldn’t push too far.