Say sorry please, Mr Greeff

04 May 2017 - 09:49 By Brendan Venter
Cheetahs star wing Sergeal Petersen.
Cheetahs star wing Sergeal Petersen.
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

The shocking officiating we saw when the Cheetahs clashed with the Crusaders in Bloemfontein on Saturday must be called into question.

There was no clear evidence of a forward pass, but TMO Johan Greeff saw fit to rule against a legitimate try, which resulted in a 14-point swing.

It was an embarrassing faux pas and is genuinely not good enough at professional level.

When someone does something for free you cannot really expect much from that person.

But the moment they get paid for their services there is a certain standard required.

Greeff made a call on the day that cannot be justified.

It would have been the right thing to send Cheetahs coach Franco Smith an SMS on the Monday to apologise for his mistake, but I doubt an apology was forthcoming.

The crux of the matter is that coaches get fired if they fail to produce results, and match officials should also be held accountable.

However, a worrying trend is that many offenders go unpunished and some are even rewarded with more marquee matches. I am aware that human error comes into play but, when an official gets something blatantly wrong during a game and it has a bearing on the result, there must be consequences.

Greeff claimed he had "compelling evidence" to suggest that Cheetahs prop Ox Nche delivered a forward pass to Sergeal Petersen.

However, TV replays revealed that the ball had gone backwards out of Nche's hands. Outspoken people who suggest that we should stop crying over spilt milk have clearly not been affected personally by poor officiating and haven't been involved at the highest level.

When you are at the coalface as a coach you can't help but feel frustrated when incompetent decisions are made after the hard work you put in during the week.

We cannot turn back time. However, what players, coaches and the general public want to see is consistency. Moreover, we would all like officials to be big enough to apologise when they make mistakes. Sharks coach Robert du Preez deserves credit because he had the courage to apologise for his team's below-par performance against the Rebels and remarked that Sharks supporters should get their money back.

In contrast, you will never hear a match official say: "Sorry, I got it wrong and won't take my match fee because my performance was not good enough."

The reality is that officiating plays a central role in results. There are three reasons why you lose a rugby game - your own performance, the opposition's performance or the performances of the match officials. The officials have a massive responsibility to the game and its stakeholders.

The powers that be must stop being so sensitive when criticism is aimed at officials. They need to devise protocols they can use to judge performances objectively and address shortcomings within a public forum. Much like Greeff, who should lose his job if he continues to make such blatant mistakes, referee JP Doyle had a shocking game and got a number of decisions wrong when Italy faced Wales during the Six Nations.

Make no mistake, there are good and bad match officials out there.

That there is a problem is because the issue of inept officiating has become common all over the world.

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