IRB clamps down on player backchat
30 October 2006
SYDNEY: The All Blacks and their international rugby opponents are on notice that backchat to a referee will be punished by a penalty - starting this weekend.
In a clampdown being led by New Zealand's former top whistler and now International Rugby Board (IRB) referees manager, Paddy O'Brien, referees will be told to penalise any player who queries a decision against his team.
That includes the captain, London's Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported.
On being penalised, the offending side must retreat 10m immediately, and if they don't, they will be marched another 10m.
The captain may clarify the decision only when the game next stops for injury.
O'Brien will address an international referees' panel in London tomorrow (NZT) to discuss the new policy which is hoped to be implemented this weekend when the All Blacks open their European tour against England, and Wales host Australia.
"I will be telling referees that they will have to get across the message to both camps before the game," O'Brien told the Telegraph.
"They will be saying that when I penalise your side, I am not going to change that decision.
"The only time I will debate with you is at an injury stoppage. International rugby is the shop window and it is time things changed."
O'Brien said there was a concern that referees were fast losing respect amid increasing dissent from players, coaches and crowds at all levels.
"You often see two or three players running towards a referee after penalties have been awarded," O'Brien said.
"Many people think the captain has a divine right to question every decision, but there is nothing in law to justify this.
AdvertisementAdvertisement"What happens sometimes is players who stop to argue are deliberately delaying the game and stopping the quick penalty."
O'Brien said touch judges would also be part of the clampdown, and would be advised to tell the referee to award a penalty if they saw players throw up their hands to complain about a decision.
There will also be a review of preventative refereeing where the players are constantly warned if they are going close to infringing.
"I watched one game on the television last year and the referee was so noisy that I had to go into another room," O'Brien said.
Referees will also be told to give the benefit of the doubt more to the attacking team in disputed tries and not refer so many decisions to the video referee.
It means the likelihood of more tries, with a referee still able to award a try if the ball cannot be sighted beneath a pile of bodies.
Said O'Brien: "From now on you will hear the referee ask, `is there any reason why I cannot award this try'?"