The impression was given this week that respect for and treatment of referees has been slipping to a dangerously low level during Super Rugby Aotearoa.
That's not true at all. Respect for and treatment of referees slipped to dangerously low levels many years ago.
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What we are seeing in Super Rugby Aotearoa is an amplification of what has been happening for years, sparked perhaps by the intensification of the competition which has put players and coaches under the sort of pressure that can expose those with a short fuse and predilection for placing blame anywhere other than on themselves.
Bryce Lawrence, a man who knows all about public castigation and how a refereeing career can be re-written to suit history's losers, quite rightly this week asked the players to pack up the angst, anger and hissy fits and get back to respecting the rule of law.
Refereeing is an art not a science and a near impossible one at that as demonstrated by the struggle New Zealand's top officials are having applying both the spirit and the letter of the law.
The mistakes are piling up amid a blinding volume of directives to make the game flow and somehow facilitate a product that will keep both winning and losing teams as well as fans and broadcasters happy.
But as much as it's frustrating that they continue to get things wrong, the not so subtle put-downs from losing coaches where referees are blamed without quite being blamed are not going to help.
The near constant on-field job appraisals conducted by various players that have become part of the game aren't going to help either.
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The competition has been so compelling, so obviously the sort of football that the world wants to see that it really doesn't need to have a darker element to it where the players and coaches take every opportunity to undermine the authority of the match officials.
The stakes are high, the games are intense and the margins so fine that it's understandable that players and coaches are emotional and volatile at times during and immediately after games.
But it's not understandable or forgivable that they haven't been able to engage officials with the respect that they and the whole game of rugby deserves and demands.
The world is watching and New Zealand has an opportunity to recast itself as the paragon of virtue. It's more important than many may think as the All Blacks don't have a great global reputation for playing with all due respect for the laws and half the world already thinks most referees are scared of them.
And it's also true that the game needs a global leader to drive better standards and attitudes towards officialdom.
Rugby has long held a smug, superior attitude about its code of conduct: sneering at the lawlessness of football where it's not uncommon for referees to be pushed and shoved as if they are the new boy in prison, being tested out by the dominant gang.
But rugby's self-righteousness now looks laughable. They have become blind to the regression of their own standards and failed to realise that they are no better than the rival code with which they hold in such disdain.
As referee boss Lawrence said on Monday, it has been a touch unpleasant to see, at times, marauding groups of frustrated footballers advance on the referee in the style of the angry masses minus the pitchforks.
The rugby has been so brilliant that maybe everyone has failed to see or simply overlooked the on-field histrionics that are now part and parcel when players don't like a decision a referee has made.
Super Rugby Aotearoa has been breathtaking in every sense, and that includes the way some players have self-granted themselves consultancy rights on how games should be officiated.
TJ Perenara is such a brilliant competitor and role model that it is disappointing that he's had trouble this year understanding that he can't berate a referee into submission.
He's a classic boundary pusher, always has been and most referees enjoy the challenge he poses, but this year he's perhaps overdone it.
He's not been alone. The Chiefs were so busy remonstrating one week that they didn't defend a quick lineout that led to a try by the Crusaders.
They actually didn't even see it happening: blinded as they were by their incessant rage about something or other that didn't go their way.
Adding to this whole culture of defiance and petulance in regard to referees has been the semi-regular, post-match complaining about decisions.
Chiefs coach Warren Gatland named and shamed referee James Doleman after the Crusaders beat the Chiefs in Christchurch, claiming Jack Goodhue should have been penalised in the build up to the home side's critical try.
There have been other moans and grumbles – half accusations and pointed remarks that have all done their bit in making it seem like respect for officialdom is diminishing.
Super Rugby Aotearoa hasn't reached new depths but it has provided a moment in time opportunity to put an end to this culture of erosion.
The competition has been brilliant, compelling, dramatic and intense. Now it has a chance to be something more and to be the leaders in restoring a more respectful approach to match officials.
Life isn't fair. Sport isn't fair and the whole point, even when vast sums of money are at stake, is for those who play it and watch it, to accept this.