A letter to Andy Marinos - Green and Gold Rugby
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A letter to Andy Marinos

A letter to Andy Marinos

Below is a letter we’ve sent to Andy Marinos, the current Chief Executive Officer of SANZAAR, regarding some concerns we have around the refereeing of Super Rugby in recent years.


 

Mr Andy Marinos
Chief Executive Office
SANZAAR

Dear Andy:

I write to you on behalf of the readers of the biggest supporter driven web site in Australian Rugby – Green and Gold Rugby (www.greenandgoldrugby.com) as well as, it would seem from recent social media activity, many rugby fans across the southern hemisphere.

I am sure you have seen the media that has been driven by some preliminary research one of our contributors pulled together around the impact of home referees in Super Rugby over recent years.  The content was shared widely on social media and picked up by traditional media in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa at least.

We received considerable feedback on this data, largely supportive of the message it told, but some also questioning aspects of its relevance. It was the result of some of this questioning that has prompted us to do additional research into the matter and has, in turn, prompted this letter to you.

The figures, which I will present to you shortly, show the impact of home referees on international Super Rugby matches and calls to question the integrity of Super Rugby more broadly.   Further, meaningful consideration must be given to how South African referees are used in these matches moving forward.

Allow me to set the scene first.  We investigated all Super Rugby matches played over the last three completed seasons, being 2017 to 2019 using data from the official Super Rugby website.  To determine the impact of ‘home referees’ we focused solely on matches between teams from different countries, i.e. no local derbies.

One of the most common responses by people questioning our initial results was that ‘Home Ground Advantage’ (HGA) was an accepted factor in such games.  This may be with regards to the impact of crowds, travel, hotels, etc. on the match outcome.  It should not be a factor with regards match officiating.  And in fact, it isn’t.  From the 246 matches in our sample the penalty count was 2,176 against the home team and 2,374 against the away team. That works out to a per match count of 8.85 to 9.65, or a ‘Home Ground Advantage” of 0.80 of one penalty.

The table below breaks this down a little further.

SR All Refs

You will see when we dig deeper that neutral referees (i.e. those from neither country represented in the match) produce staggeringly consistent results at a nominal 0.20 HGA.  Even when the referee is from the visiting country, the HGA is relatively insignificant.

The concern comes from when a referee from the same country as the home team is in control of the game.  On these occasions, 105 times over the previous three seasons, the home team receives an average of 1.56 additional penalties each game.  From a per match perspective perhaps these figures don’t raise too many concerns.  Less than a couple of penalties a match difference? Who cares, right?

Well, perhaps, but it was worth delving a little deeper. So, let’s look at the breakdown of those hometown performances. Again, please refer to the below table for a summary based on the nationality of the referee.

SR All Refs by country

While the overall figure of 1.56 penalties per match in favour of the home team under a home team referee could be argued is not cause for concern, the figures per nation should raise alarm bells.  We are happy to put aside the two home matches the Jaguares have had refereed by a local as a small sample size.

What is more of a concern is the impact of South African referees when they are refereeing matches within the Republic.  On these occasions they are favouring the home team by an alarming 3.67 penalties a match. When compared to Australian (whose HGA is 0.50) and New Zealand referees (an HGA of -0.26), the South African statistics raise even more concerns.

It is also worth noting that of the 200 Yellow Cards that were given out across the 246 games studied, just under 60% of them were given to the visiting team.  However South African referees when officiating at home give almost 75% of their yellow cards to the visiting team.

Yellow Cards

Again, we wanted to dig into these hometown refereeing stats a little further and break it down per referee. Let’s start in our own backyard and look at Australia.

In the below table you will note a couple of high HGA numbers against Damon Murphy and Will Houston, however as both have only refereed one match at home, we can discount them.  As a result, Angus Gardner has the highest HGA at 0.93 which is a barely above the ‘all referee’ average (0.80).  Nic Berry, across his four games, seems to favour the away team which is a concern for sure but perhaps the subject of a separate review.

AUS Refs

Moving across to New Zealand, remember that their overall HGA had them very slightly favouring the away team. However, they do have a few individuals who have a trend towards awarding more penalties to the visiting team.  Ben O’Keefe at 2.50 penalties a game leads the pack from Mike Fraser and Brendon Pickerill at HGAs of just over 1 penalty a game.  Similarly, to Berry there are some officials that go too far the other way with Nick Briant (-4.0) and Jamie Nutbrown (-2.33) leaning towards the away team.

NZL Refs

Which brings us to South Africa.  Every single South African referee’s figures indicate an HGA in favour of the teams from their nation.  More significantly some of the numbers are seriously concerning.  Egon Seconds rules on average 8.5 extra penalties a match against the visiting team, while Jaco van Heerden is not far behind with 6 extra penalties whereas Rasta Rasivhenge sits in third spot with a 4.67 HGA. All three record HGA figures that are higher than any other nation’s referees.

SAF Refs

Andy, there are further figures that I could throw at you to further our case here but if the above doesn’t tell the story then I don’t think anything will. Our initial investigations alluded to potential concerns around the Match Officiating strategy within Super Rugby. Our follow up has proved that it is a serious afront to the legitimacy of this competition.

It is our belief that SANZAAR should pursue a policy of neutral referees wherever possible. If nothing else, it will allow the fans to focus on the match free from any concerns regarding the affiliation of the referee. However, our analysis has shown that these concerns are valid when one examines matches in South Africa that are overseen by a local official.

We will be posting these figures and letter on our website as a follow up to our initial research. We would welcome a response by you, either written or otherwise at your earliest convenience. We would be more than happy to provide more information on our methodology if required.

Sincerely,

Reg Roberts
Green and Gold Rugby

  • swingpass

    well done Reg (and others). very illuminating. i suspect there will be no response.

    • Mart

      Oh there was a response… it went like this…’fark you you aussie whingers it’s your problem…p.s Angus Gardner has fucked up a few times as well so there…..’

  • Gun

    Great work. I too suspect there will be no response. We have discussed it time and again but refereeing is part of what makes Super rugby a flawed comp, in terms of quality and fairness.
    No new supporters watch this comp, just the rusted on. If it can’t be changed once the media deal is locked in or before, then these features of the competition must be improved. It speaks to the arrogance on SA and to some degree NZ that they are unwilling to consider change in this area. Like the home unions, their ‘ownership’ of the game is more important than our voice.
    You wonder when world rugby will revisit the simplicity of the law variations suggested a decade ago.

  • Jason

    Reg one thing to look into further is situations like the Rebels (vs Sharks) faced over the weekend where for example you get a South African referee flown out from South Africa to ref a game between an Australian Home Team and an International Away team, while that game was probably without incident (although a few key moments happened to go the way of the Sharks), the set of these matches would be interesting to consider.

    Frankly, I doubt we will see a difference in the outcomes — South African Refs looking favorably on South African teams, be that an actual bias or simply a product of the specific systems.

    Ultimately the question must be why are we flying AJ Jacobs out from South Africa to Ballarat when we could easily have sent Jacobs to say the Chiefs vs Brumbies and sent say Brendon Pickerill to do the Rebels game. I absolutely accept that it’s virtually impossible to have no conflicts at all in matches, but frankly it appears that SANZAR aren’t even trying when they send a referee from South Africa to officiate a game in Australia, but won’t get a Ref from New Zealand to do a game between the Reds and Sunwolves. Having refereed myself I do deeply feel for Nic Berry who is in the unenviable position of refereeing his former team, although still got closer than the SA Refs this year (-8 penalty count favoring the SA team, plus a 2 to 1 advantage in Cards).

  • Wilson

    Out of interest what are the numbers like for neutral/away refs in South Africa?

    • Braveheart81

      Based on Reg’s stats above for games in South Africa between a South African team and a foreign team with a non-South African referee:

      33 games – 285 penalties against home team, 297 against away team for a home advantage of 0.36 penalties a game.

      • Wilson

        Counters the argument that it’s exhaustion from altitude/travel causing the visiting teams to infringe more in SA in particular.

        • Patrick

          Nah the referee is too tired to see all those dirty foreigners infringing against South Africa’s finest

  • Gottsy

    Reg, you had me at hello.

    Seriously though, amazing work from all involved, I really hope this gets some attention, it needs to be well known. We’ve got enough to deal with as it is.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Nice Reg. I hope they respond and that we get to see it. I’m sure there will be some bullshit platitudes about it all and no doubt get some figures from World Rugby and costs of travel to back up their inability to make a good decision. It’s going to be interesting

    • Cornchips

      This seems to be accounted for by showing the neutral refs stats

  • Mr Wobbly

    Nice work, Reg (and Rebels3).

    I wonder how much of the YC differential is caused by home broadcasters highlighting crimes against their team with replays on the big screens? This seems to happen pretty regularly.

    • Hoss

      Great call re the ‘local’ tv coverage, interesting to see how many tries have been reversed (without on-field officials referring it to TMO) based on replays and crowd input

      • Kevino

        One of the worst parts about being a Rebels supporter, the guy controlling the replays is useless in our favor. Sharks game is a prime example, everyone could see it was a forward pass and the guy could not show the right angle or slow mo to assist. Although the normal angle should have been enough.

        • Hoss

          We’re all guilty of it mate. I have certainly jeered at replays on the big screen when i have attended games in an attempt to influence officials. I would love a lot of rules and procedures streamlined and uniformed to help improve the spectacle of Rugby. Scrums / resets as an example drive me to the brink of despair with our game. Its not ‘gamesmanship’ its cheating and it must be addressed pronto

        • Patrick

          I think you responded to the wrong comment :)

    • Yowie

      Stirring up a crowd with big-screen replays is an English tradition that dates back to William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a school football match in 1823.

      • Mr Wobbly

        Yep. I was there at that game. Good times.

        • Timbo

          The way that the local Shakespearean players acted out the foul play was academy award winning.

        • Yowie

          I particularly enjoyed the monologue-to-crowd before committing said act of foul play.

          I am one,
          Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
          Have so incensed that I am reckless what
          I do to spite the world.
          I shalt tackle without arms
          or upend my opponent beyondst the horizontal
          or throw punches whilst the scrum is masking the business from the common eye

        • Keith Butler

          Pure Bard at his best.

        • Yowie

          Well, 85% Bard on account of about that level of plagiarism from me…

        • Timbo

          It was interesting the way that they faced the referee when he was considering penalising the Rugby team’s number 7 at ruck time. their words, particularly powerful:
          The quality of mercy is not strained.
          It drop-kicketh as the gentle rain from heaven
          between the posts beneath. It is twice blest:
          It blesseth him that pilfers and him that holds on.
          ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
          The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
          His whistle shows the force of temporal power,
          The attribute to awe and majesty
          Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of coaches;
          But mercy is above this sceptered Lawbook.
          It is enthronèd in the hearts of referees;
          It is an attribute to God Himself;
          And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
          When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Ref,
          Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
          That in the course of justice none of us
          Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
          And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
          The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
          To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
          Which, if thou follow, this strict court of Rugby School
          Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the number 7
          there.

        • Yowie

          Gold

          In terms of No 7s talking to the ref, you’ve got the above eloquence on one end of a spectrum and Michael Hooper at the other.

      • Aidan McCarthy

        Yeah wasn’t big screen technology so good back then!

    • laurence king

      And the home broadcasters not highlighting the home team misdemeanors, for example, Beale’s nasty attack on that Crusaders prop’s elbow with his throat.

      • Yowie

        Beale should have been red-carded for using the old “Elbow-seeking Adams-apple Missile” on a little bloke. It’s a blight on the modern game.

  • Reds Revival

    It would be good if our friends across the ditch could send a similar (or supporting) letter to Lex Marinos (bit of a throwback to Kingswood Country, for those of you old enough to remember).
    Somehow, I don’t think the Saffas will be throwing their weight behind it…

  • Huw Tindall

    If this level of bias were popping up in a commercial or government organisations the audit teams and independent corruption commissions would be all over it. SANZAAR though is worse than the NSW Labor government when Obeid and co were in power!

    • idiot savant

      You know it is kinda corrupt. As Ive bleated on about before, I dont think Lyndon Bray has ever driven standards during his tenure as refs boss. You see he’s a kiwi. Now before I unleash a thousand kiwi trolls, I hasten to add there are obviously kiwis with standards. Their Prime Minister sets a decent standard (by PM standards). Its just that it would be un-kiwi to give a toss if a Saffer ref upped an Aussie side for the rent. Hell it would be un-kiwi for a kiwi to give a toss about a kiwi ref upping an Aussie side for the rent. And the refs aren’t stupid. They’ve worked this out. So the seeds of corruption were sown long ago. Key interventions here and there, ‘flat pass’ interpretations, different rule for Higgers to the rest of the players in the comp, head high tackle for that player, shoulder tackle for another one, great line speed for one side, offside for another, protecting the ruck for one side, sealing off for another, and so on. What I would be interested in is a comparison of the home ground penalty advantage for Aussies sides and kiwis sides in South Africa. Those Saffer refs dont want to jeopardise future appointments by pissing off Lyndon too much but Aussies, well they’re just fair game. This is not a racist taunt. I respect the fact that kiwis intelligently seek every advantage at every level to do with rugby, its encoded in their mothers milk. The way they think this stuff through would make an FBI profiler blush. So it would be un-kiwi for Lyndon to approach it any other way. Surely what we need is neutral refs boss.

  • Yowie

    Great work.

    SANZAAR will probably fight back with their own table of statistics about Reg’s pro-Reds bias in his various podcast and article comments.

    • It’s pretty hard to argue when the stats come from SANZAAR’s website.

      • Who?

        Sully, has Yowie ever made a serious, non-sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek post..?
        I don’t read that as a dig at Reg – the authors of this site are clear in their biases, it’s clearly editorial when they’re talking about their own teams, as opposed to straight factual reporting (which is how it’s supposed to be done).
        Whereas SANZAAR… Their capacity to hold to anticipated standards is rightly questioned, here by Reg, and by many others on previous occasions.

        • Yowie

          Just to be clear, i have no problem with anyone’s pro-Reds bias. It’s people supporting other teams that are one-eyed partisan bastards with no business being involved in this fine sport.

        • Wow… I wasn’t having a go at anyone except SANZAAR. Paranoid much?

        • Keith Butler

          You should have guessed by now that Yowie is Hoss’s apprentice with pretentions to taking over his crown. Long Live the King!

        • Yowie

          F*ck that. Hoss puts an effort into making some actual relevant points amongst his jokes.

        • Keith Butler

          Credit where credit due mate but I have seen the odd relevant comment from you. We do need humour to balance against the clusterfuckery that we read about here. Keep up the good work.

        • Damo

          Keith, you mean like Egon Second with his one Hitler salute every 4 minutes to the Lions last year (V Rebels). Truly a memorable stand up routine. He did put his hand up once to the Rebs, but that was just to tell them to stop laughing.

        • Keith Butler

          That’s the bloke. Not only did he want Seconds, he wanted Thirds, Fourths and Fifths as well.

        • Hoss

          I have a point ? Usually i don’t know what i am actually trying to romeo red candle ice cream 6 at all.

        • Yowie

          I assumed you had a point somewhere in those long posts that I skip-over. “Quantity has a quality of its own” as they say.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Or in the words of that song on the radio this morning “if you can’t do it well, do it hard”.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          The point is in the eye of the beholder.

        • laurence king

          Ah, code now is it?

        • Hoss

          Further Unintended Codes Known Yet Explained Sporadically.

      • Yowie

        Does SANZAAR keep stats on GAGR commentators? Bloody hell.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Why would they bother if they don’t analyse the stats they do have?

          Perhaps we should keep stats on our own comments, and then not analyse them.

        • Yowie

          I think the technical term is doing “Shit Hey Research”

  • Nutta

    Good work. Big ups. I always say it’s “our” game and it’s on us what we tolerate. The cynic in me regrets it will probably go nowhere. But it doesn’t mean we don’t fight the good fight. I hereby owe you beers.

    • mortlucky

      It’s already gone somewhere. Rebels3’s initial sleuthing (Mortlock Holmes?) has made the mainstream press here and the internet overseas so it’s in people’s psyche now. They can’t unknow it. Bravo to all.

  • Hoss

    Big props Reg & team. A well reasoned & considered piece.

    Very keen to see if SANZAR warrant it a response, one of my first business lessons learnt was ‘the standard you walk past is the standard you accept’, wonder if the SANZAR team will walk past this one?

    • idiot savant

      Why stop now?

  • Steve

    This is great stuff Reg and Rebels3.

    I would love to get hold of the raw data for this if you have it – I’ve got a couple of lingering questions from the tables here and might be able to come up with something fun.

  • Gun

    Maybe it’s a case of the Hansies.

  • tex

    Great letter Reg. Clear facts, presented for discussion. I won’t hold my breath for a reply but it’s great to be on the record.

  • Ross

    I’m just waiting for breakfast time in South Africa… Mid afternoon AEST the comments section here should light up.

  • Pedro

    We’ve always suspected this. Nice work.

  • Xaviera

    Now that is a RIPPER expose! Next thing we know, you’ll be on Four Corners and exposing yet further government corruption. Sounds like we may get a SANZAAAAAAR ICAC before we get one at Federal level.

    What is comforting is that our Australian referees come out of this looking pretty good, and our refereeing stocks are improving with each season, so that trend should continue. Gus has the Tahs v Lions this Friday night, supported by an all local MO team, so it will be interesting to see what the internal chatter is amongst the RA cohort over the next few days.

    The solution is simple – ensure neutrals for every match apart from derby matches (and that includes the TMO, which should in turn negate the skew of the home ground broadcaster), and undertake some SERIOUS coaching of the South African cohort. In isolation, each PK will be explainable, such is the nature of our game, its nuances and the shades of grey within it, but in the context of these numbers, they will need to review through a very different prism.

    This could turn into quite a story. I watch with interest, and in the meantime, will keep my ear to the ground, especially over the coming weekend.

  • mortlucky

    Great work all. This plucky little site can really make a difference (I reference the awesome “scrum straight Joe” campaign).

    I would love to see the story of a game through the lens of what gets missed.

    I mean – and this is more for academic purposes – has anyone, ever, studied a single game and assessed all of the violations within it (i.e. all those at contact that get missed). Anecdotally we hear about half a dozen violations each ruck. Has anyone ever assessed an entire match?

    Maybe they did for the ELVs. And maybe Scott Allen did something similar. Or some of the guys in NZid. Maybe it’s my new project…

    • Yowie

      has anyone, ever, studied a single game and assessed all of the violations within it (i.e. all those at contact that get missed). Anecdotally we hear about half a dozen violations each ruck. Has anyone ever assessed an entire match?

      Anyone who started such a task is still working on it.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Yep. I actually tried this once. I scrolled and frame-by-framed a match looking for every infringement, and recording them in a spreadsheet. After three sessions of about an hour each, I gave up at about 20 minutes into the match. There were often three infringements happening simultaneously. And then you’d be going back and forth looking at something, and you’d notice another one. It’s a hopeless task.

        So, perhaps 12 hours scrolling per match for me to do it, and still missing maybe 10% or 20% of them. I’m sure others could do it better, and better video equipment would help. But I doubt a good person would take less than 4 hours to do it per game to a reasonably level. Not sure how a ref is meant to do it in real time.

        • Hoss

          I’ve seen your story play out before Andy L…….’no officer, he was always so quiet and kept to himself and his video analysis. I know, it’s shocking, who’d have though he was capable of…….’

        • Andrew Luscombe

          … sticking his point in the eye of a beholder?

        • Yowie

          Was that with TV broadcast footage only, or did you have access to more angles/footage?

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Just TV footage.

        • Yowie

          Bloody hell. So all that time/etc to note infringements was just from the stuff visible in the TV edit.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Yeah. But I think with all angles it might be quicker. In the TV footage Iyou see things that might be an infringement but then have to look and think sometumes what it is, when another angle might tell you quicker. I think most things are in the TV footage, but not always very well,. Maybe delving into the bottom of rucks from the other side might show some missed things.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      This is one of the issues. At every ruck, lineout, scrum, maul, tackle and everywhere else, there is so much going on and what you see invariably comes from where you are. Stand on one side of the field and you get one picture, stand on the other side and you get a completely different picture. This is why so many people get frustrated at referee decisions, they are seeing something different.
      The good referees are the ones that are able to get to the right position, at the right time and to rule on the issue that is most relevant to the game at that time. i.e. a player off side but not affecting the ball coming out or being used is best left alone so the game can flow. You also see this where a front row collapses and the ball is at the back so the referee says Play!.
      The issue I think we’re seeing is that some referees are looking at the picture and subconsciously making a ruling that they then back up by continuing with it to justify the first one. One of the biggest mistakes we sometimes make is to try and balance out a previous mistake. We need to switch it off and move on making decisions on what we see at the time while trying to get into the best position
      we can to make the right ruling.
      Not easy but a lot of fun

  • dru

    I support this action. Well done Reg.

  • Greg

    I was wondering what we would discuss this year with Mr Cheika and Mr Foley moving on. It starts to become clear!

    Good letter.

  • laurence king

    Brilliant stuff Reg. I remember some of those penalty counts last year in the Republic were quite outrageous. You’ve clearly shown that something needs to be done.

  • juswal

    Two spaces between sentences. Who typed this?

    • RugbyReg

      me

  • RugbyReg

    Hi everyone thanks for the comments. SANZAAR have responded, but not Andy Marinos as yet. I got this from their media folk:

    “Thank you for the email and the information.
    I have passed on the document to Andy marinos.

    I should point out however that Super Rugby has a policy of merit-based referee appointments. Indeed it has been that way for 10 years at the direction of the teams and team coaches. This is what they want. They do not want neutrality but the best referees available.

    Also we now have a full-time game analyst who works with the Game Manager. Match stats and trends all form part of the referee selection/performance protocols. Team coaches also have weekly input/feedback with the Game manager on all aspects of match officiating.”

    ESPN have asked Andy though with the ‘response’ covered here:

    https://www.espn.com.au/rugby/story/_/id/28782700/sanzaar-responds-damning-research-hometown-referees

    Tom Decent from SMH was keen to follow up with him too to ask some questions on our stats.

    Keep watching…

    • Yowie

      From the linked article:-

      “I just don’t understand where, all of sudden, after 10 years of meritocracy, suddenly now neutrality becomes an issue because a team, or teams, are suddenly are now feeling aggrieved by processes.”

      I don’t think it’s “all of a sudden” become an issue. There have been grumbles about hometown refs from way back when they changed to the current arrangement.

      • Who?

        Dude! I asked on this page, “Have you ever seen a serious post from Yowie?” Then you go and break your streak by posting a straight response – no humour, no sarcasm, no twist – on the very same page! What are you doing to me?! :-P

        • Yowie

          Sorry. I might need to put handles on serious comments so it’s clear when I’m not full of sh!t for a change.

    • idiot savant

      10 years of meritocracy has produced current results? I wasn’t aware we had adopted the Soviet definition of meritocracy.

      • Funk

        I had a bit of a giggle when I fiirst read it, I read it as, “10 years of mediocracy has produced current results”, then when I re-read it, I thought I was right the first time:)”

    • Gun

      I’ll provide a short summary of Marinos’ comments. Those Aussies are whingeing c…s and should think themselves grateful to play in our competition. Now run along.

    • Who?

      Also from the ESPN article:
      “… it wasn’t so long ago that Angus Gardner got a bit of a public exposé in his internationals and his performance and there was a massive outcry about it; a very upset outcry, especially by Australia around ‘how dare he be put up there and vilified, been made and used as a scapegoat, and his performances should be treated as confidential,'” Marinos said.
      .
      Perhaps, Mr Marinos, there wouldn’t be an outcry if there were consistency in this. It’s very rare for a referee to get publicly castigated. It happens once, maybe twice every RWC cycle. Half the time, the public humiliation is wrong. Like Rolland copping it in 2011 for being the one referee to follow the GMG’s and issue a RC for a lifting tackle. But we can have instances like Seconds’ 43-6 penalty count against teams visiting Ellis Park last year, which go without comment.
      .
      And I don’t know anyone who’s ever thought the supposed merit system was anything like acceptable over the past decade and more. But clearly Mr Marinos lives inside the ‘SANZAAR bubble’ (tm pending) and hasn’t spoken to a real fan in a long time…

      • Patrick

        Shade of Paddy O’Brien’s moment of shame after his beloved kiwis were so arrogant as to field novice props against Italy and were in fact lucky to finish the game with any on the field.

      • Keith Butler

        Must admit that when Angus first appeared on the scene, I thought that he was easily influenced and being a slightly biased Rebs supporter felt that in some of our games he favoured the opposition. All changed now as I reckon he’s one of the better refs on the international scene.

    • Hoss

      Wow.

      Firstly, credit to SANZAR for responding, well played.

      Secondly. Reg, you need to know your place. How dare you use SANZAR stats with an open invitation for them to comment on, or to clarify their own statistics. The sheer temerity!

      Clearly it’s a merit based system, just what those merits are and who arrives at them is still a complete bloody mystery that’s all. And yes, of course the teams and coaches want the best available. If I am from the ancestral home of Dutch Dirt Diggers of course the ‘merits’ of Ergon Seconds more than fulfil my teams requirements. I don’t believe for a minute the teams can meaningfully influence the appointment of match officials, but then shouldn’t the process and merit based rankings be examined and divulged ?

      I look at the ICC attitude and systems here with their use of neutral umpires for tests.The perception for bias has been entirely removed through the application of umpires from a panel of ‘neutrals’ to choose from.

      In all of this two things really stand out:

      1. Sheer arrogance of the reply
      2. Sheer ineptitude of the whole structure – here’s a hint Andy, it ain’t working.

      And as for a game manager ??? At what point in a 7:1 home side favoured penalty ratio, over several matches, did the manager think Ergon Seconds might warrant a performance review ?

      It’s easy to dismiss it all as ‘sour grapes’ from the ‘market the claims come from’, but again, here’s a tip Andy, we know we have been shite for a few years. There are no harsher critics of Australian Rugby then Australians. However, we care for the overall health of our game and it’s future in a crowded Australian Sports landscape. A landscape that you don’t experience in Saffaville or the Shaky Isles, so coupled with our teams performance is the quality of the product being delivered each week and I gotta tell you, Super Rugby has a spreading and aggressive strain of herpes at present and all on your watch. Maybe you should have a look through the data again hey.

      • Yowie

        I like the inherent weasel-words quality of the expression “the best referees available“.

        Like, I married the best-looking woman in the whole world….who will put up with my bullsh!t.

        • Hoss

          Yep. Completely dismissive but with enough flowery prose in an attempt to hide the arrogance (neither worked by the way) – ‘I think you have to take a lens to where it’s coming from’…….Yes, from your own statistics dimwit (knowing full well he means us Antipodeans). And ‘suddenly now neutralism becomes an issue’ really, only now?

          It’s true what they say the best thing to come out of South Arica is, Qantas flight QF632 ex Jo’burg.

        • Yowie

          “I think what we need to do, is we need to validate those numbers…”

          Cracked me up. “Your numbers you mean?”

        • Hoss

          I am smelling the convening of a sub-committee and a lengthy remit……Chaired by the venerable HR Puff-n-Stuff to validate their own numbers and after 6 months, $750k and 14 crates of cognac, the findings will be released that ‘can confirm, yes, they were our numbers……’

      • GeorgiaSatellite

        Hoss, have you really missed the opportunity to rebrand Egon as ‘Sloppy’ Seconds?

    • Keith Butler

      If it’s based on merit then WTF is ‘Thirds’ doing refereeing at this level?

    • CaptJack

      Might be time to do the 10 years of analysis. See if there are some other trends at play as Super Rugby went from near peak interest to what we have today.

  • Ian Rodger

    Very well done and fairly daming on the SA refs. I would be very supprised if there would be any reaction from SANZAAR.

  • Baylion

    Interesting “fact”

    2016-2020: 76% of the matches the Lions were penalised less than their opposition, no matter where they played or from which country the ref was

    I haven’t yet looked at the other Saffer teams raw stats but maybe, just maybe, the Saffer teams are more disciplined than the Kiwi and Ozzie teams :)

    A few questions:
    – On what do you base the supposition that penalty counts should be balanced regardless of a team’s discipline or lack of discipline?
    – were all the matches reviewed to see whether the penalties given/not given were valid? Or is this just a witch hunt to cover up the Kiwi and Ozzie teams’ ill-discipline
    – were the penalty advantages not taken up (penalties in fact) taken into account?

    • wilful

      Simple. Neutral refs in SA don’t show this bias.

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@RugbyReg

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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