Owen Doyle: It’s time for referees to stop chatting and hand out punishments

Affability doesn’t always work while Eddie Jones’ rants need to be tackled

The red card for Manu Tuilagi was indisputably correct, despite Eddie Jones’ “absolute rubbish” protests. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The red card for Manu Tuilagi was indisputably correct, despite Eddie Jones’ “absolute rubbish” protests. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Sadly, and wisely, there was no game for Ireland in Rome. But the fare on offer in Twickenham would have better suited the Coliseum. Too often England’s win over Wales was ugly, far too ugly.

Eddie Jones had not, unlike before their match against France, warned Wales about the physical brutality which England would bring. But bring it they did. The breakdown was savagely contested and Wales could not match the frightening English firepower.

Shane Horgan put it very well – “every player who came off was battered, blood spattered.” It was attritional.

After nearly 15 minutes of real time from the kick-off, the ball had actually only been in play for 7.45 of playing time. Jonny May had received lengthy treatment for an accidental elbow to the head. He didn’t return from his Head Injury Assessment.

There had also been a flare-up on the English goal line after which Owen Farrell was penalised and clearly warned as to his conduct. Failing to calm down, he shoved Dan Biggar to the ground moments later – this was mysteriously unseen by the match officials.

Having come out of retirement for Japan, this may well be the moment for Marler to call it a day for good. The judiciary are unlikely to be lenient.

It then transpired that Joe Marler had, utterly unacceptably, interfered with the genital area of Alan Wyn Jones. Was this designed to provoke a reaction, or an irrational impulse? For different reasons either are of huge concern.

Having come out of retirement for Japan, this may well be the moment for him to call it a day for good. The judiciary are unlikely to be lenient.

Courtney Lawes has also been cited, so too with Manu Tuilagi’s red card. That’s three players charged – some example.

The red card decision was indisputably correct, despite Eddie Jones’ “absolute rubbish” protests. Don’t forget that this is the coach who last year defended Farrell’s body checks and shoulder “tackles”. George North, who has already suffered far too many concussions, was fortunate not to have been seriously damaged. Should he even be playing?

Last season in France’s Top 14, Toulouse’s Joe Tekori (weighing in at 130kgs) knocked Clermont’s Yohan Behergerhay into oblivion and he was stretchered off with several other injuries, apart from a serious concussion. In a risible decision, allowing Tekori to face Leinster in the Heineken Cup, the judicial panel exonerated him.

Tellingly, Behergerhay tweeted asking if someone has to end up in a wheelchair, or to die, before proper action is taken? That is a very powerful question - perhaps the English coach would give us his answer.

Jones also stated that his team were playing against 16 opponents, a clear enough statement that referee Ben O’Keefe had sided with Wales. Unacceptable.

The coach’s rants should be tolerated no more by World Rugby or by England. Let’s wait and see if they do something. The game needs it.

I’ve mentioned before that O’Keefe is affable, but he will have learned that sometimes a different approach is needed. On yet another pesky point of law – the optics of ignoring restart offsides are terrible, and, when an offside player makes the tackle, things have gone too far.

This match, and Scotland’s win over France, confirmed the futility of referee chat at scrum time, instead of sanctions.

It seemed, once Haouas’ punch was identified, that everything which had gone before was incorrectly ignored and forgotten by all of the on-field officials and the television match official

So to Murrayfield. We all had high hopes for a cracker, but were left with pretty much a damp squib.

It was all over much early too, thanks to a Tyson Fury-like punch from France’s Mohamed Haouas to Jamie Ritchie. The look on coach Fabien Galthie’s face would have stopped an advancing army in its tracks. The red card was obvious, no French complaints.

But, wait and consider – Ritchie had run a long way to get involved, aggressively igniting a situation which was on the point of calming down. He should not have even been there.

Referee Paul Williams had, very unwisely, turned his back on the players to award a penalty, and the opportunity to nip things in the bud was gone. Next, the reality is that all the officials needed to do so much better.

Preventative refereeing (roll away, let it go etc . . .) is a useful tool, but counter-productive when an offence has already been committed

From their discussions they were clearly aware of Ritchie’s action but, astonishingly, he remained on the field. He could have had no issue with a red card – he was responsible for everything that followed. Those who think it was only a yellow card really need to think again. Why on earth was this not properly reviewed?

It seemed, once Haouas’ punch was identified, that everything which had gone before was incorrectly ignored and forgotten by all of the on-field officials and the television match official.

Also, when yellow-carding the French number six Francois Cros, the officials should have looked closely at, and been aware of, the actions of Paul Willemse.

The Scots created chaos and mayhem around the breakdown, slowing a lot of potentially good French ball. Now, there’s a surprise.

The penalty, which positioned Scotland to score a try just before half-time, should have gone the other way. It was very kickable and France could well have led at half-time. And, with equal number of players, we would have had that cracker of a match.

Instead it was 7-14 and with France reduced to 14 men – an impossible difference.

Preventative refereeing (roll away, let it go etc . . .) is a useful tool, but counter-productive when an offence has already been committed.

The referee spoke a lot throughout the match – perhaps very useful for Scotland, but not so much for France. If all of one team can understand all of the referee’s communication, and half of the other team can get about half of it, then it’s clearly inequitable.

There’s no real need to speak French, everybody understands concise communication in rugby-English.

I’ve been fortunate that my French is good (maths terrible), and I well remember English captain Will Carling asking me before a match in Paris that, when I said something in French, would I repeat it in English. That’s the point.

Owen Doyle is a former Test referee and former director of referees with the IRFU

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