Buffering? Pixelated? Frosty fare? Yes, all of that and I'm not even referring to a certain provider who has, at pivotal times, lacked spark in live streaming the Rugby World Cup from Japan to the populace in the past week.

No, my preoccupation is with the much ado about nothing pertaining to New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe exchanging a low five with fullback Kini Murimurivalu as he walked back following a try that had extended Fiji's lead to 21-12 against the Wallabies in Saporro last Saturday.

I commended the Blenheim-raised, Wellington-based whistle blower for the way he had controlled the match between Fiji and Tonga at Eden Park on August 31 and I laud him again for developing a rapport with players on the paddock.

Making his RWC debut as a referee, the 30-year-old had demonstrated his class in not only keeping two physical Pacific island sides in check for the best part in Auckland but also mentoring them with crisp instructions on why he was penalising them in areas such as lineouts and breakdowns here before the world cup.

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Who is to say why O'Keeffe was exchanging pleasantries with the Fiji player in Saporro. It could have been in acknowledgement of something they had accomplished in relation to some tactical facet of play where the Pacific Islanders had shown incremental growth.

It wasn't like O'Keeffe was jumping up and down trading high fives. Those who can't see past a genial gesture should reflect on how Welsh referee Nigel Owens has turned the art of officiating into a form of theatre, as opposed to the usual unpalatable stop-start affairs that do nothing but whet the appetite of moribund mobs that elevate officials on their ability to interpret clauses and subclauses from rugby's byzantine, glove-compartment driving manual instructions.

Sure the edict that sound officials blend into stage performances of the 30 actors on the park rings true, but why shouldn't referees have the licence to interject now and then to add colour to entertainment at the expense of outdated sentiments.

Calls for banishing O'Keeffe to some sort of naughty corner of officialdom to dwell on his behaviour is draconian and, at best, counterproductive to where 21st-century sport should be heading.

It's ironic and a breath of fresh air that someone of the ilk of O'Keeffe is making his debut while Owens makes his swansong at his fifth world cup.

Like his former refereeing father, Peter, now living in the United Kingdom, O'Keeffe believes he's a good communicator who has a propensity to manage a game well.

"I think if you're a referee in New Zealand you can learn technically the laws of the game but it is really important your personality comes out and they know who you are on the field," he had told me about this time last year, before conducting a training clinic at Te Aute College after the E graders had won his services in a competition.

In rugby or any other code, teams and players must sidestep the mentality of us and them when it comes to officiating.

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Fiji coach John McKee didn't want to be drawn into a war of words in the media but he didn't have a cheap shot at referee Ben O'Keeffe as the officials already had a tough job to do. Photo/AP
Fiji coach John McKee didn't want to be drawn into a war of words in the media but he didn't have a cheap shot at referee Ben O'Keeffe as the officials already had a tough job to do. Photo/AP

A locum at the eye department of the Wellington Hospital, O'Keeffe did miss an allegedly no-arms tackle from Wallaby winger Reece Hodge on flanker Peceli Yato in the 26th minute of the Aussies' 39-21 victory.

Captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu had reportedly referred the incident to O'Keeffe, who had, consequently, consulted the TMO.

Hodges had prevented Yato, who had broken down the short side of a lineout, from scoring a try when Fiji were leading 11-7 but the four-point control at the match returned a verdict of not guilty despite the Fijian leaving the field for concussion and missing the next match.

However, Hodge was expected to front a three-person judicial committee in Tokyo today after the citing commissioner had found the incident met the red-card threshold for foul play.

New Zealand-born Fiji coach John McKee, who carved a niche in Australia before plying his trade in Europe, reportedly had no qualms with the refereeing.

Nevertheless, a red card to Hodge and a penalty try could have resulted in the Flying Fijians setting the world cup alight in the pool of death.

The incident again raises dire questions on whether a caste system dictates how rugby treats its elite members when locking horns against their lower-tier ones.

Even if the judiciary panel finds Hodge guilty today to slap a two-week suspension, it'll be of little consequence to Fiji, who most certainly would have progressed to the playoffs despite not having played Wales, who face Australia next.

To rub salt in the wound, Fiji-born Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibeti had added to Tonga-born Tolu Latu's brace of tries for the Aussies. No 8 Isi Naisarani was the other Fiji-born player starting for the Wallabies.

It seems Wallaby coach Michael Cheika's perception of playing in the spirit of rugby is at odds with every other team, especially if the citing commissioner steps in. Photo/Photosport
It seems Wallaby coach Michael Cheika's perception of playing in the spirit of rugby is at odds with every other team, especially if the citing commissioner steps in. Photo/Photosport

Instead Wallaby coach Michael Cheika cast aspersions on the character of Fiji, labelling the rival coaches as two-faced merchants who had given no indication of reporting Hodge.

"I'd say the most disappointing thing was the Fijians. After the game we had a lot of friendly discussion with myself and the coach. He talked to our other coaches, there was no mention of anything," Cheika told media. "And then to get a referral, and the way that it was referred, that was really disappointing. I don't find the way that they brought that was in the spirit of the game at all, which is something you know from Fiji."

It's mind-boggling stuff when Cheika feels McKee's conviviality somehow defines the boundaries of consciousness. Diplomacy doesn't and shouldn't come at the expense of loyalty to McKee's subjects.

Throw in the red herrings of O'Keeffe "picking on" David Pocock, former Wallaby Phil Kearns blaming media for the citing and ex-England coach Clive Woodward pontificating the virtues of "real time" TV viewing — as opposed to slow-motion ones — to ascertain guilt and you start getting the pixelated picture of rugbydom.

Perhaps Cheika thinks stripping Pacific Island nations of their talent isn't enough compensation for elite teams who believe it's their birth right to make the world cup playoffs.

Just as the Hodge case, the eligibility rules of World Rugby is flawed on account of Sevu Reece's dreams to play for the All Blacks but, no doubt, the show must go on.