Bulls coach Jake White has questioned the bizarre decision-making process which saw his team reduced to 14 men against Western Province on Saturday.
The Bulls got their 2020/21 Currie Cup campaign off to a winning start with a 22-20 victory over WP at Newlands, their first win in the Cape in 11 years.
NOT RASHIVHENGE’S FIRST CONTROVERSIAL INCIDENT
A biggest talking point in the match came in the 47th minute when TMO Rasta Rasivhenge flagged a potentially dangerous tackle by Bulls loosehead prop Jacques van Rooyen on WP fullback Warrick Gelant.
Rasivhenge initially recommended that the tackle merited a yellow card, but after a lengthy discussion with referee AJ Jacobs, Rasivhenge then changed his mind and suggested a red card be shown.
Jacobs, who despite having no view of the incident on the stadium’s big screen, reasoned that because the tackle had ‘contact to the head with extreme danger and no mitigation’ it warranted a red card.
Social media exploded in disbelief at the decision taken by the two officials, which further highlighted the growing concern over the competence of officials in rugby at present – both in SA and around the world.
It’s not the first time Rashivhenge has come under fire for his officiating and it remains to be seen what sanction SA Rugby dishes out to both he and Jacobs – if any.
Despite playing with 14 men for the majority of the second half, the Bulls fought their way back to snatch the win when replacement Marco Jansen van Vuren scored what turned into the match-winning try after flyhalf Chris Smith’s winning conversion.
Speaking to the media in an online briefing after the match, White questioned the process that Rasivhenge and Jacobs followed to make the decision to send Van Rooyen off.
‘I heard the commentary and then all of a sudden they switched it off,’ White explained.
‘I found that odd because we always have access to the communication between everybody on the field. It was almost like they didn’t have an agreement between themselves on whether it was a red or a yellow card or a penalty. And then when it was red, I thought “jeez that’s a bit strange”. Usually, if someone’s in doubt then I think the [benefit of the] doubt would go to the player [tackler].
‘I don’t think it was justifiable as a red card. Warrick Gelant got up and carried on playing, he didn’t even get banged on his head, he hit him on the shoulder.’
White did however sympathised to a degree with referee Jacobs.
‘AJ is rated quite highly, he works closely with (fellow referee) Jaco Peyper in Bloemfontein. He’s regarded as one of the referees that they see as a potential Test referee going forward. It’s difficult for a guy to pick up everything. He must also have felt under pressure at the end of the game.’
WP coach John Dobson was also asked about the incident, which he called a ‘grey area’ of the game.
Dobson referred to an incident in Saturday’s Test between New Zealand and Argentina, when All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax was shown a yellow card for a dangerous clean out despite swinging his arm into the head of an opponent.
‘I think we’re back in a bit of a grey area with those situations,’ Dobson said.
‘At the end of this morning’s Argentina v All Blacks game, there was a red card in my mind which was only given as yellow. That probably may have been worse than what happened today.
‘I think we are slacking generally, finding a lot of mitigating factors like this morning’s game. Those injuries can be devastating. But if that’s going to be universally applied that it’s a red card, then great.
‘But with the context of the way rugby is at the moment, I was probably a little surprised it was a red card, but they did go through their checklist, we could hear them go through their checklist. But if it happened to us, yes I’d probably have been disappointed that it was red but I would have accepted it as well.’