A rugby direction used to be: only the captain should talk to the referee and no one should ever touch the man with the whistle.

Referees were depicted as sole judges and only on rare occasions could a captain approach them to inquire about a decision. Those guidelines have become increasingly blurred.

These days we see clusters of players accosting referees, haranguing them and in some cases physically contacting the officials.

Those cases are nowhere as common or deplorable as the melees which accompany soccer referees around the globe. However there is a noticeable rise in rugby and rugby league players, confronting officials.

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Now it's gone to another level with Sharks coach Gary Gold challenging a TMO during a Super rugby match.

And Sanzaar's response has been tame.

Gold has been fined $15,000 for entering the TMO box twice during the Sharks match against the Crusaders last month and using crude and insulting language and has been warned any further breaches in the next year will result in more fines.

That censure is just as docile as Sanzaar's response last year when Tahs coach Michael Cheika was warned after he spoke to referee Jaco Peyper during the halftime break. That caution came while Cheika was on a suspended six month ban for abusing a camera operator during a match.

Gold approached the TMO twice and in any sporting language that is intolerable. With his language and actions, Gold was trying to influence an official or persuade him to alter his decisions.

That's a red card and Gold should be removed from his duties for some time.

Ban him for a month to let him think over the situation if the roles were reversed. How would Gold respond if the TMO came into the coaches box during a game to challenge and abused him about the Sharks' performance?

There would be justified outrage and harsh penalties. Sanzaar needed to deliver that deterrent to Gold.

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