Reds v Brumbies: Referee Should Have Issued Red cards - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Reds v Brumbies: Referee Should Have Issued Red cards

Reds v Brumbies: Referee Should Have Issued Red cards

Glen JacksonEach week I analyse the performances of teams and players that I feel most people want to discuss. Unfortunately this week the hot topic from the weekend is the performance of Glen Jackson, the referee in the Reds v Brumbies clash on Saturday night.

Between the 64th and 76th minutes of the Reds v Brumbies match on Saturday night the Reds had possession of the ball for all but one phase where the Brumbies kicked it out after the Reds knocked on from a lineout. The ball did not leave the Reds attacking 22 at any time in that period.

Whilst the pressure on both teams was incredible, the pressure on the referee was even more intense. He had to make decisions on the run, with bodies all over the place, a massive crowd roaring at him and a fair number of the players giving him unsolicited advice. The captains of both teams were also doing their very best to sway his opinion on what the other team was doing. I will never put my hand up to referee at any level because I just wouldn’t be capable of making those sorts of decisions whilst under pressure.

At the start of that sequence of play the Brumbies led by seven points and the Reds decided not to release any of the pressure they were applying by taking a shot for penalty goal from any of the seven penalties they received in that period and instead chose to push on for the try, which they eventually scored in that 76th minute. Of those seven decisions James Horwill only made four of them, each time after consulting with Will Genia, with three quick taps taken without input from Horwill.

How did the Brumbies keep the Reds out for those twelve minutes? There was some great goal line defence, there was good pressure applied at one of the Reds lineouts, there were probably too many phases from the Reds in tight when there was space a little wider and there were plays from the Brumbies that Ewen McKenzie and many others have called cynical.

I could write a whole article on the incidents that were penalised and those that were missed by the referee and we could debate those points for days. I believe there was cynical play from the Brumbies and that the referee missed penalties that should have been awarded in that period. However, I see little point in arguing about whether the decisions the referee made to penalise or not were correct because that is after all a subjective argument – none of us can say for certain that our view is right or wrong – all we can have is an opinion and as with most strongly held opinions, we’ll all probably stick with our opinion, no matter how much we try to convince each other.

The referee was the one on the field who was called upon to award the penalties or not, so for the purposes of this article I will work on the basis that the decisions by the referee to award or not award penalties (and advantages) were correct.

What I want to deal with are the facts of what happened with the penalties awarded in that twelve minute period because those are not subjective issues.

In the 64th minute Colby Faingaa was penalised for being offside and in the 66th minute George Smith was penalised for the same infringement. The referee then warned Ben Mowen saying “Any more like that and someone’s going to the bin”. That warning was a clear statement from the referee that he considered there had been repeated infringements by the Brumbies so let’s have a look at what the laws say about repeated infringements. Below is an extract from law 10.3 with my emphasis added.

Repeated Infringements

Having decided that two offside penalties in the previous two minutes constituted repeated infringements by the team, the referee warned the Brumbies, through Mowen, in accordance with the law. From that point on any Brumbies player who repeated the offence (offside) should have been temporarily suspended (issued with a yellow card or in the referees language – gone to the bin).

In the 68th minute the referee awarded an advantage to the Reds after George Smith infringed again. During the break whilst the TMO ruled on whether Ben Daley had been held up over the line the referee confirmed that if no try was awarded, the Reds would have the penalty from the previous advantage. Horwill made the point to the referee that the Brumbies had now infringed three times in a row and the referee confirmed that he agreed with him.

Once Daley was ruled to have been held up the referee confirmed to both Mowen and Horwill that the Reds had a penalty saying “James you’ve got a penalty over here for offside”. Now according to the law and the referee’s own warning to Mowen, Smith, who had repeated the same offence (offside) should have received a yellow card at that point – it is black and white that it was a repeated infringement by the same player under law 10.3(a) or a repeated infringement of the same offence by the team under law 10.3(b).

Is there an argument that even though the laws say one thing in black and white, they are often interpreted differently? Certainly.

What about a non-intentional infringement such as falling over in a ruck and not being able to roll out of the way? Look back to law 10.3(a) and you’ll see that the question of repeated infringements is a matter of fact – there is no consideration of whether a player meant to infringe or not.

Does the field position of infringements have any bearing? The law doesn’t say so but when issuing yellow cards you will often hear referees talking about there being too many infringements close to the try line or in the red zone.

What about a question of the time between infringements or between the warning and the infringement? Again the laws make no reference to the issue of time.

To answer these questions we need to look beyond the laws to see how they are interpreted. Guidelines are issued to referees and teams to clarify how the laws are interpreted – whilst these guidelines are not laws they form the basis for interpretation of the laws. As an example of how repeated or deliberate infringements are dealt with, below is an extract from the ARU’s published 2013 Game Management Guidelines (again with my emphasis).

Game Management

Therefore the field position of the infringements can be relevant. Even if infringements are not the same the laws are applied so that a pattern of infringements can be considered to be the “same”, particularly if the infringements are committed close to the try line and there is no time limit on when the infringements occur or between the warning and the infringements.

There is no question that after three penalties in a four minute period, all for the same offence and all within metres of the try line there was a pattern of the Brumbies infringing. So whether you look only at the law or you look at how the laws are interpreted, the fact is that the referee got it wrong by not following through on his warning to issue a yellow card at that point.

The Reds decided to take another lineout from that penalty from which the referee penalised Scott Sio and this time issued a yellow card. This was not a penalty for offside so was not the same offence as provided for under law 10.3(b) but the referee was entitled to issue the yellow card as it was part of a pattern of infringements by the Brumbies. He could also have issued the yellow card without a warning for a deliberate infringement anyway, so in this case the referee got it right.

Having issued one yellow card, what should happen if another infringement occurs? If we look at law 10.3(b), any player who repeats the infringement (which is the pattern of infringements near their own try line) is to be sent off (issued a red card), not given another yellow card.

If we look beyond the law the ARU have previously published a handy guide which shows the sanctions for infringements. Below is an extract from that guide (which ironically I got from the Brumbies website).

ARU Sanctions

As you can see, after a penalty and yellow card for repeated infringements the sanction for any repeat is another penalty with a send off.

In the 70th minute the Brumbies were again penalised within metres of their own try line when Ben Alexander didn’t roll away. Forget whether this was intentional or not because law 10.3(a) says that is not relevant. The referee again got it wrong by warning Mowen that “if there’s another one, I’ll go yellow again”. There was no option to give another warning or to issue a yellow card – Alexander should have received a red card at that point.

In the 72nd minute Alexander was penalised for a scrum collapse. That is another team infringement close to the Brumbies try line within a pattern of infringements, intentional or not. Even if there had not been a pattern that is a repeat infringement by the same player that was penalised for an infringement two minutes prior, which requires a yellow card under law 10.3(a). On top of that this penalty came two minutes after the warning the referee gave to Mowen that he would issue another yellow card, yet the referee failed to follow through and issue any card.

Just two minutes later the referee played an advantage to the Reds directly under the posts but allowed play to proceed before penalising Tevita Kuridrani for being offside five metres out from the Brumbies try line. This was clearly part of a pattern of infringements by the Brumbies and the referee should have issued another red card.

Even if you could somehow argue that this penalty was not a part of a pattern or that the the second warning given to Mowen four minutes earlier had reset the count, this was an infringement covered by that warning and a yellow card should have been issued. Once again the referee failed to follow through and his performance in that twelve minute period demonstrated why SANZAR was wrong to award this match to such an inexperienced referee, particularly when an experienced referee, Steve Walsh, was in Brisbane as one of the assistant referees.

Whilst players, coaches and referees will always make mistakes, there have to be consequences for any of those parties that perform so poorly and accordingly, Jackson should be suspended from Super Rugby for a short period and go back to a lower level to work on his decision making under pressure.

A final comment from me before everyone else has their say – if Jackson had done his job properly there is no telling what the result of the match would have been so I do not say that the referee cost the Reds a victory – that is just pure speculation and I see no point in that.

UPDATE: The other thing to consider about the use of a red card if there are further team infringements after a yellow card is that there is an equivalent rule for an individual who receives a yellow card – if they then infringe in a similar way again the second yellow becomes a red. Whilst you don’t see it often, the law is there and even though it has a massive impact on a match, it is an automatic upgrade to a red card, just as the team law is. When Drew Mitchell was red carded against the All Blacks in 2010 it ended any chance the Wallabies had in the match but the referee had no choice, just as he had no choice in this situation – it is not a discretionary matter for the referee.

  • Barbarian

    According to the letter of the law, Jackson should have issued a red card (or two). But have you ever seen a straight red card given for repeated infringements? I certainly haven’t.

    Seems like every ref in the world ignores this rule, so is it time we re-examined it? Either make refs enforce it, or take it out of the book. It seems overly harsh to me, so I would do the latter.

    This is saying nothing of Jackson’s performance, just commenting on the law itself.

    • Dally M

      They should make the refs enforce it. It would ensure a more free flowing game with less penalties & stoppages, but you will get no support from the Northern Hemisphere, NZ or South Africa for doing it.

    • Scott Allen

      I’ve never seen a straight red card issued for repeated infringements but I’ve seen red cards for repeated infringements after a yellow card has been issued.

      No suggestion there should be straight red cards – that’s not what the law provides for. Has to be 1) a warning and 2) a yellow – before a red is issued.

      • Rex Munday

        Didn’t Drew Mitchell get done for a red a few years back against the ABs? And wasn’t it without a yellow being issued first? Happy to stand corrected.

        • Scott Allen

          I was updating the article with this very point as you made your post – see the UPDATE above.

        • Rex Munday

          Happy to stand uncorrected then. Cheers!

        • Scott Allen

          No, sorry he got two yellows, the second of which was automatically uplifted to a red.

        • Rex Munday

          Haha! Corrected!

  • spikhaza

    here here Scott I’ve been preaching this on the forums et al for some 48 hours now but you’ve summed it up more succinctly than I ever could.

    • If that is more succint, I’d hate to see how you wanted to say it on the forum!! ;)

      • Scott Allen

        Do you reckon I should add some more detail in Cyclo? It’s a bit brief isn’t it?

        • Yeah, mate, you need to pad out the details a bit more!

  • Nowared

    Great commentary – it certainly cuts thru all the bullshit put out by our media outlets. For commentary like this it makes reading G&GR worthwhile. Hope the likes of people like Growden etc learn from these articles and perhaps contribute something decent instead of running gossip columns

    • Rex Munday

      I’ve already noticed that the MSM outlets farm G&GR. There was an article on Foxsports about the Reds v Brumbies game which used several distinct phrases lifted straight out of Scott’s summary article

  • skip

    the closest i ever heard was in the 91 world cup pool game between England and Italy when the ref said he “considered sending an Italian player off for repeated infringements”.

    Odds on us having the same chat after a bledisloe test later in the year?

  • Rob42

    I wasn’t aware that send-off was the requirement after one YC for repeated infringement – another educational article from Scott.

    I wonder if some of the refs are aware of this? If so, I would have thought they would warn the captain that the “next time’s a red card” as they give the YC to “first repeat” offender.

    Wow. Talk about pressure.

    • Scott Allen

      It would appear Jackson wasn’t as he warned Mowen that the next time he’d go yellow again, when as you say he should have warned him that the next time he’d go red.

      • Who?

        Top level refs often seem not to know a lot of little things like that… Like in 2010, where three separate refs allowed tries to be scored from scrums where the ball had popped back out the tunnel or rolled through the tunnel. According to the law, the scrums should’ve been reset (one was Joubert, Bulls against Reds in Brisbane, another was Poite, Rocky scoring in the last minutes against Italy). I would’ve hoped a memo would’ve been sent round to all the refs after the first one, but clearly they didn’t get the message.

        It’s also interesting to contrast what’s happened here with the vilification of the ref in the Wales/France semi in 2011, where the ref (rightly, according to the IRB’s protocols) gave Warburton a red card. There was much angst about Wales being robbed, when the referee clearly had the intestinal fortitude to make the right call. No one bothered to worry about Wales missing countless shots at goal, any one of which could’ve won them the match…

        And on that note…

        “there were probably too many phases from the Reds in tight when there was space a little wider”

        FINALLY!!!!! And trust Scott Allen to be the first to repeat what I’ve said in at least two comments sections on here. Clearly a man of fine intellect. :-)

  • stillatragic

    Well done Scott. Hit it on the head.
    What is termed ‘gritty defense’ by some is downright cheating in the eyes of the majority. As Jake White said ‘ 20 penalties on the Reds line. You can’t coach that kind of defense.’ Or maybe you can.

    I’ve been looking at the Laws myself and thought that repeat yellows should result in a red card. At what stage is a penalty try be awarded? The Laws say if foul play prevents the probable scoring of a try.

    Did Jackson cost the Reds the win? Yes, in that absurd penalty at the kickoff. 3 important points for doing what? But he should never have been put in charge of a match of this importance and that says more about referee management than his inexperience. The Brumbies have history, already the most penalised team in Super Rugby, and the breakdown was always going to be contentious.

    Still, they played to he referee, and that also can be coached.

  • petea

    Great article.
    I am sure that the brumbies may have been better off if a penalty try was given. It would of had the Brumbies kicking off and having the ball down the other end? Who knows what would have come of it.
    I thought at the time the reds were unlucky not to get the penalty try and was suprised with the last offside penalty before the try that a second player was not binned. But in hindsight I feel the reds may have done the wrong thing by not taking the points. As the saying goes. “Play the Ref”

  • Redsfan1

    Great article Scott. Doesn’t this make a mockery of Jake Whites claims that the Reds are the dirtiest team? It also validates McKenzies own article that set them off.

  • Realist

    It’s worth remembering that Scott is a QLder :-). Lilo shouldn’t have been sent off after a Reds collapse of the scrum on the Brumbies feed. The Reds maul is illegal – look at the point in time where the centres join in. Furthermore, at least the first Reds maul involved truck and trailer and yet the Reds retained possession and field position scoring off the next (illegal) maul. It’s easy to have a whinge.

    This should have been the only red card issued:

    • Jimmydubs

      yes you have just proved it is easy to have a whinge…

      read the article again and be gone with your irrelevant unrelated comments

    • Scott Allen

      Realist – you’re kidding it was Alexander that hinged and went down in that scrum, not Slipper.

    • Who?

      If you want to complain about the mauls, why not complain about how even the first maul had players trying to drag it down, and how the one that ended with a try had not one, not two, or even three, but FOUR Brumbies come in from the side?

  • Brackets

    The game is over, done and dusted. Whatever should/should not have been called is now irrelevant and not going to change the outcome. Refs are always going to make bad calls, this isn’t the first and won’t be the last time. Time to get over it and move on I think.

    • Donk

      Well said mate

    • Fixit

      This apathetic attitude is ruining rugby. If we had more commentators like Scott – we could get the rules and (more importantly) the application of the rules applied consistently. Tight games should be decided by the better team, not the referee!

  • MightyMoth

    There’s a lot of debate about the Reds should have taken the shots rather than go on attack. Did anyone watching really want to see that? Kudos to the Reds, they stuck to their guns and dominated the game. They didn’t get fair pay but put in more than a hard days work.

  • JDog

    Great article.

    I suggested to some Twitter ref’s a while ago to revise the laws that if you have an advantage in the “red zone” (within 10 metres of the tryline) and there is a repeat infringement, it’s an automatic yellow.

    I think that the chronic problem of “settling for 3″ by a defensive team in the red zone has plagued the game in recent years. The Crusaders are by far and away the WORST offenders at this game plan. It’s coached because of the fact that referees are incredibly reluctant to issue reds and repeated infringements are always dealt with very leniently by all referees.

    The nadir of this being the Bok vs All Blacks match where Rolland issued McCaw as captain of the AB’s 3 warnings and a personal love note to McCaw himself for repeated infringements and refused steadfastly to penalise the AB’s by sending a player to the bin.

    We live in the atermath of the total cockup of referee management by O’Brien where many young, still fit, top-level referees have retired thanks to being sent to the wilderness by O’Brien in favour of the likes of Bryce Lawrence. There is a tremendous gap between top level ref’s like Craig Joubert and Steve Walsh and up-and-comers, like Jackson, who have had to be rushed into the system to plug gaping holes.

  • MattyJinOz

    I was devastated that due to a family commitment I was unable to be at the game. Luckily, I was able to keep an eye on it through a live feed. Even watching it in this way made me question the decisions of the referee as when Sio was binned and then there was numerous other penalties I kept thinking the Brumbies are going to end up with a soccer team here.

    Knowing the rules I thought that the ref had to act more decisively and didn’t.

    Then you watch the game and realise that Steve Walsh is acting as an assistant – WTF?

    Best part was having read the media and especially the various comments on this site – I was then watching the game from a relatively enlightened POV.

    That last twenty minutes was excruciating as a Reds fan. I dont mind we didnt win as I think Horwill should of kicked for goal earlier

    In saying that I do understand what he was doing. He showed in how simple the Brumbies game plan was and how destructive and removed it became from the spirit of how the game should be played.

    The pity was that Scott, as you described that this was lost on the ref and he didnt apply the law – whether by the letter or in the spirit of its intent to allow the game to be played in the manner and circumstance it deserved.

    I think the biggest question I had was do we want to even look at Jake White as a coach for the Wallabies?

    Do we want a negative game plan as the underlying principle of our team when we really need some excitement and to get back to the basics of what makes Australian rugby great?

    My thoughts prior to this match was – he has done a great job getting the Brumbies to where they are – now they are please NO, God please NO!!!!!!!!!

    For me the result represented where both teams are at. Reds are going to transcend to a new level in the next few games and be ready for the finals. The Brumbies will get there but their one dimensional and destructive approach will be what finishes there season.

    Bring on the finals and hopefully a rematch.

    • Who?

      In all fairness, I don’t think it was the Brumbies’ game plan to have only one phase in possession in 12 minutes, with that entire 12 minutes spent in their own 22. I don’t believe that it was a game plan.

  • Gus

    Very interesting discussion of the laws. I’d say there can really be no argument as to the textbook way it should have been handled as you clearly pointed out.

    Not knowing about the laws in depth what frustrated me was that someone else didn’t get sent off (yellow or red) after Sio got sent to the bin.

    It’s almost as if referees view giving a yellow card as the payoff for the repeated infringements and ‘reset’ the count of repeated offenses.

    Why bother warning a team again after a player has been sent off, they have been warned, infringed again and been punished with a yellow card. Any more of the same infringements are just evidence of the same cynical play and deserve to be sent straight away.

    Perhaps if the law allowed for multiple yellow cards instead of instantly upgrading to red referees would be more likely to put multiple players in the bin.

  • SkopjeBrumbiesFan
    • ScumbiesCheated

      Let’s not!

      • Stubbs

        Wow, what a mature name you have. Glad to see GAGR bringing out the best in people over this game.

    • RugbyFan1258

      hahahahahah there is one photo…. claiming liam gill is “illlegally” holding george smith to the scrum…. but the ball is still in and the only way george is connected to the scrum is through Mr Gill….. looks like he was doing old Georgey boy a favour

  • Dally M

    I think it needs to be pointed out that Scott Allen is THE best Australian rugby writer in my opinion.
    He provides insight and analysis that no one else in Australia does.
    This is the type of analysis that changed the way some fans looked at baseball in the US ala Moneyball, and is something that the intelligent rugby fans want and need.
    There is too much fluff in the newspapers.
    Someone needs to sign this guy up, either one of the newspapers or one of the teams!

    • Old_laurentian

      Absolutely agree. Thank you Scott.

  • 10.3 also states that a penalty try Must be awarded. No one likes penalty tries, but it would have put the game back on track.

  • rebelpirate

    Firstly, thanks Scott for another great article. I am a Brumbies supporter through and through. I agree that we were lucky to get away with a lot on the night. However, we must remember that rugby is a game that also involves humans and a bit of luck. In the case of the referee, he/she will always be subject to making an error. The percentage of that happening in the game is based on many factors of which I won’t discuss. However, the team that is able to take advantage of this will reap the benefits compared to the team that doesn’t do anything about it, i.e. return in kind etc…how many times have we played the game where we’ve lost a match due to poor refereeing? All in all, its great to see Australian rugby starting to flourish again. True, nothing has been achieved yet but the results of many good investments (i.e. coaches, restructuring, recruitment etc) is starting to show….I hope this carries through to the Lions series, the RC, Bledisloe, Mandela Cup and the EOYT. I also love the growing rugby tribalism thats on GAGR….we need this passion and we need to spread it.

  • yourmatesam

    @Scott Allen – You have a great insight into the game and always provide solid analysis and i enjoyed reading the above post.

    I don’t agree that “Jackson should be suspended from Super Rugby for a short period and go back to a lower level to work on his decision making under pressure.”

    Whilst he could have performed better and should have issued more Yellow Cards (at least), I think he did a commendable job under serious pressure. He will be better for the experience and will surely be going through a strenuous review process at present which will see him better for it.

    Maybe Steve Walsh, Craig Joubert or Chris Pollock should have done the match, maybe Horwill could have made better decisions on the field, ultimately I don’t think it matters – it was a cracking game of rugby and what’s done is done.

    • MattyP

      Agree – Jackson didn’t get this spot on, but to “go back to a lower level to work on his decision making under pressure” is moronic. He is a good ref, I think may become the best in the game, but only by being exposed to these types of games. And it’s always the devil and the deep blue sea argument in these positions for the ref – if he had dropped a couple of red cards and the donkeys finished with 12 on the pitch, the hew and cry would be just as loud in the other way, that the ref determined the match, blah blah blah. We hear it every week how refs blow too many penalties, give too many cards etc.

  • TheBlackMamba

    Scott – this seems a pretty open and shut case based on your analysis. If Glen Jackson was to post a response, what do you think his counter-argument would be (hypothetically of course)?

  • Da Munch

    It would seem Mr Walsh doesn’t know the rules either;
    1. yellow card collapsing maul

    2. penalty 1 & 7 entry maul

    3. penalty 1 collapsing maul for the 2nd time

ACT Brumbies

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

More in ACT Brumbies