Alan Jones slams referee over disgraceful Bledisloe Cup decision that has rugby on life support
Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones has labeled referee Mathieu Raynal a ‘pip-beep from Paris’ after the Frenchman handed the All Blacks a controversial last-minute 37-34 win over Australia on Thursday night.
While admitting that Raynal was within his right to penalize Australian Bernard Foley for wasting time as the clock ticked to full-time, Jones was adamant that umpires were ‘ruining the game’.
“Is the referee ruining the game?” he asked. “Undoubtedly, yes.”
Of course it doesn’t take an ex-Wallaby coach, or even an ex-Wallaby like David Campese, who recently gave a similar opinion to Daily Mail Australia, to point out that rugby referees have a detrimental effect on the game.
French referee Mathieu Raynal (center) made one of the worst decisions in the Wallabies’ long history, costing the team a Bledisloe win after their heroic comeback against the All Blacks
Furious ex-Walabies coach Alan Jones says rugby referees have to enforce ‘so much rubbish in the law book’ – and it has left the sport way behind in free-flowing codes
Anyone who’s paid money for a seat in a stadium or sat down in front of their television and got into the irritating, stop-start-penalty feast that this season’s Test matches have brought knows only too well.
A low point was the first Test between the Wallabies and Argentina in Mendoza, with referee Mike Adamson awarding a whopping 30 penalties, but other matches were not far behind.
The Australia-England test at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium was marred by a shocking decision by Irish referee Andrew Brace that saw the Wallabies reduced to 14 when winger Izaia Perese made a foul early in the first half.
With England on the attack, Perese attempted what appeared to be an obvious attempt to intercept. Brace ruled it was a “clear, intentional knock-on” and sent him to the bin for 10 minutes. England scored shortly afterwards and went on to win 25-17.
In the TV commentary box, former All Black Andrew Mehrtens was incredulous.
“There’s no movement to knock that ball,” he said. “He’s trying to drag it in.
“This is the absurdity we’re seeing right now where there’s just no common sense being applied to some of the statements.”
It was a chorus often heard by frustrated onlookers as the test season progressed.
Jordie Barrett’s match-sealing attempt would never have happened if it weren’t for the kind of nitpicking, over-the-top decision that’s become all too common in the running game
Raynal gives Darcy Swain a yellow card during the Bledisloe Cup clash on Thursday evening. The Wallaby was previously the victim of a farcical yellow against England
There was the farcical sin-binning of South African halfback Faf de Klerk for punching his Wallaby in the face opposite number Nic White as he tried to chase the ball (aided by a blatant dive from White), sending out Wallaby Darcy Swain for a half-hearted retaliatory headbutt after his hair was pulled out by England’s Jonny Hill, and the expulsion and suspension of All Black prop Angus Ta’avao after an obviously unintentional head clash with the likes of Irish Garry Ringrose.
But the granddaddy of them all has to be Raynal’s decision who deprived Australia of a chance to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
If any of the stunning actions by referees in recent times is deemed monumental enough to force Dublin lawmakers to rethink the amount of power given to the people with the whistle, this should be it.
No consultation, no visible timer counting down the seconds as Foley prepared to kick, and no regard for the importance of the situation, the players’ exhaustion, or the feelings of the paying customers.
Just a guy with a whistle and a law book who wants to be the star of the show.
Aussie players – pictured reacting immediately after the loss – are supposed to be the stars of the show, but it’s the match officials who take center stage thanks to the bloated rules
As Alan Jones put it: ‘I have little sympathy for someone who runs the clock, but at the same time you would hope that the umpire would have some sense of the game.
“This isn’t the first time a team has been penalized for wasting time, but it’s the first time it’s happened at such a crucial time in such an important game.”
Jones, who coached the Wallabies on their 1984 Grand Slam-winning tour of Great Britain and Ireland and to the success of the Bledisloe Cup in New Zealand in 1986, said the time-wasting debacle was symptomatic of the greater slump that the international Rugby Union destroys.
“The umpires have an inordinate amount of control over the game,” he said.
That was certainly the case at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Thursday night, where Raynal awarded five penalties in the first five minutes and 24 in total, plus four sin-bins and, of course, the controversial last-minute decision to send a penalty to Australia. turning into an All Blacks scrum feed leading to a try.
“The referee plans to blow the whistle, but you can’t argue with them because there is so much nonsense in the code,” Jones said.
“That’s why AFL is so popular. The referees don’t have to do anything. There are no rules in Aussie Rules. It’s non-stop action.
“In rugby, the umpires ruin the game. You plug them in for sound and give them power and they want to be the stars. That’s why you only get 32 minutes of real play.
This is what the fans want to see: rugby running. But they get break after break – and unless that changes the game is in big trouble (Wallaby Pete Samu pictured with ball)
“Why anyone thought it was a good idea to hook them up is beyond me. You connect someone and they will talk. They think the whole world wants to hear what they have to say when nobody really cares, they just want to watch some football.
‘Scrums are the biggest problem. Why does a referee tell international attackers how to wrap a scrum? What would he know?
“These are the best players in the world and you have a beep from Paris telling them how to scrum. It’s ridiculous.’
Surprise, surprise – another yellow card, another stoppage of play. Jones says union can’t compete with AFL’s nearly nonstop action unless it returns to its free-flowing roots
But as more ex-players and supporters grow increasingly frustrated with the way rugby is progressing, it’s not unexpected.
Last week, Wallaby great David Campese told the Daily Mail Australia the current state of the game as ‘a joke’ – and plenty of people around the world would agree.
In his preview of Thursday night’s Test, New Zealand journalist Hamish Bidwell posed the question: Who will be the star of the show at Marvel Stadium?
“Unfortunately, as we have become more and more accustomed to,” he wrote, “it could well be Referee Mathieu Raynal.”
Unfortunately he was right.
As Brisbane media personality and renowned rugby league man Ben Dobbin tweeted after the Perese sin binning at the Suncorp Stadium: ‘What an absolute disgrace. Rugby is dead if this terrible service continues.’
Maybe not quite yet, but it will be on life support soon.