Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Officials made mistakes against Blues, admits refs boss

Referee Stuart Berry blows the final whistle during the Super Rugby match between Lions and Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Referee Stuart Berry blows the final whistle during the Super Rugby match between Lions and Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

Referees boss Lyndon Bray has admitted match officials got it wrong in both of the Blues' recent defeats in South Africa.

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan took issue with several decisions awarded against his team in the Republic. He said today he had spoken to Bray about them but had yet to hear back on his explanation over a contentious try awarded to Lions fullback Coenie van Wyk in the home team's 39-36 victory in Johannesburg.

In what is a unique initiative, Bray today posted his explanations of several recent contentious rulings on the Sanzar website.

Among the clips provided, and his comments, is an explanation as to why the try to van Wyk, scored after Charles Piutau knocked the ball from midfielder Deon van Rensburg's grasp, should not have been awarded.

In his ruling, Bray said: "Lions #13 [van Rensburg] is carrying the ball and about to attempt to score a try. Blues #11 [Piutau] effects a tackle and Lions #13 loses possession as a result.

While the Blues player does jolt the ball out of his possession, he is not trying to deliberately `rip the ball' out of the player's possession. The onus is on the ball carrier to maintain possession while being tackled. Therefore, this should have been ruled as a knock on and subsequently, no try.''

The awarding of the try by South African referee Stuart Berry and compatriot TV match official Johan Greef was particularly galling for Kirwan as the Blues were in the midst of their comeback. The score, which was 23-15, was quickly 30-15 and the game almost out of reach, although the Blues went close at the end.

"It came at a critical time when we were getting into our flow. It's disappointing,'' Kirwan said on Sunday.

"I think it was a knock-on,'' Kirwan said today. "If it's not, then I need to understand what the ruling is.''

Bray also said the try awarded to Bulls front rower Marcel van der Merwe, which earned his team a bonus point in the 38-22 victory in Pretoria, should not have been scored as it was a clear double movement.

- APNZ

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