Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Bray defends officials after Henry blast

Lyndon Bray has backed his match officials following Sir Graham Henry's blast yesterday and has suggested the Blues assistant coach could face sanctions for his comments.

Bray said referee Glen Jackson and television match official Keith Brown made the right calls during the Crusaders' 23-3 victory over the Blues in Christchurch on Saturday.

Former All Blacks coach Henry was angered by several decisions in the match, including the ruling out of a possible Frank Halai try by Brown, the sinbinning of lock Culum Retallick for an intentional knock-down, the failure to penalise Andy Ellis for obstructing a Blues' attacking ruck, the failure to penalise Wyatt Crockett's scrummaging, and more.

Bray, though, has not surprisingly backed his men.

In an interview with Newstalk ZB today, he said: "Look in the case of those two calls [Halai non-try and Retallick sinbinning], yes [the officials were correct],'' Bray said. "And I know that was, I guess, where the major accent of the criticism is coming from.

"So I think it's important to acknowledge that in both cases the referee did the right thing.''

Of Henry's criticism of Crockett's scrummaging, Bray said: "It's always going to be an area that will create contention because of the forces that are going on behind the loosehead and tighthead props when they actually engage into the scrum.

"And who is at fault is a never ending debate.''
Bray believed the regular criticism of his match officials was coming because there was more of a spotlight on them than ever before.

"We have over the last couple of years built up a pretty strong attempt to be pretty transparent about performance and be available to discuss the issues that crop up.

"And I think people want to now who's right, who's wrong.''

He said he didn't have a say in whether Henry would be sanctioned, but Sanzar officials would be reviewing the coach's comments.

Bray said he didn't take Henry's criticism too seriously because the coach himself admitted he was "blind'' during the interview with journalists yesterday.

- APNZ

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