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Waratahs boss makes neutral refs call

NSW Waratahs chairman Roger Davis has urged more use of neutral referees in key Super Rugby games.

Waratahs boss makes neutral refs call

NSW Waratahs chairman Roger Davis has urged more use of neutral referees in key Super Rugby games.

NSW Waratahs chairman Roger Davis has called for neutral referees to be used in more key Super Rugby matches.

Davis believes big games between teams from different countries should have a referee from one of the other nations.


He says it would help eliminate rumblings of discontent, like those in Australia after the NSW Waratahs' controversial loss to the competition-leading Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

The all-Kiwi team of match officials including referee Ben O'Keefe missed Crusaders' prop Joe Moody's elbow to Kurtley Beale's throat that was later deemed worth a red card and two-match ban.

Had Moody copped the red card during the match it's highly unlikely that a 14-man Crusaders team could have pulled off their record comeback from 29-0 down to win 31-29.

When Super Rugby kicked off in 1996, neutral referees officiated games but the competition switched to a "merit-based" system several years ago, a move supported by the Super Rugby franchises and coaches.

Asked whether neutral referees should control more Super Rugby games, Davis said: "I think there is an argument that should happen.

"That (Waratahs v Crusaders) was the top of the Australian conference against the top of the New Zealand conference. That's a big game.

"I'm not sure you need a neutral referee for every game. It has got to be like Caesar's wife (Caesar's wife must be above suspicion) in these big games. You want to take away any element of doubt.

"No one is accusing the referee of cheating. I think that is a hell of a stretch, but you don't want this to turn into a nationalistic argument, it was your referee.

"You would much rather say the referee had a shocker and not pin it on nationality."

Davis pointed to the use of neutral referees in Test rugby.

"They have learnt that lesson in the international game," Davis said. "You have neutral referees. It just removes any doubt or uncertainty.

"I know it's difficult with scheduling issues and what have you. But why have (Australian referee) Angus Gardner for a Highlanders-Lions game? They had a neutral referee. Why don't we get a neutral referee?"

It is understood SANZAAR members are discussing the "merit-based" system at a board meeting in London this week.

But even if SANZAAR wanted to return to neutral referees, it would be hamstrung by the fact the majority of referees are New Zealanders.

Of the 17 referees, seven are Kiwis, five are South African, three are Australian and one each from Argentina and Japan.

AAP


AAP




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