The opening rounds of final 12 months’s Tremendous Rugby Aotearoa 2020 competitors was characterised by exceptionally excessive penalty counts.
That was attributed to the brand new breakdown interpretations, which gamers initially struggled to regulate with. Because the weeks handed, gamers grew to become higher accustomed to the brand new legal guidelines whereas the referees additionally appeared to ease off on the penalties.
A 12 months on, Saturday’s night time match between the Highlanders and Chiefs in Dunedin was once more laden with penalties, with 23 whistled up by Ben O’Keeffe.
It wasn’t the breakdown that was inflicting each aspect’s troubles, nonetheless; it one thing rather more mundane.
Time and time once more, the 2 groups had been pinged for gamers advancing in entrance of the kicker.
Mitch Brown, who notched up his fiftieth match for the Chiefs, was stung twice by O’Keeffe, with the referee telling Chiefs captain Brad Weber that the punishments may enhance for Brown if he wasn’t cautious.
The offences had been all comparatively minor within the scheme of issues. Most of the time, forwards had been those dealing with O’Keeffe’s wrath – and barely had been they advancing to really put strain on the defending aspect.
Nonetheless, O’Keeffe was constant – and that’s what each coaches focussed on within the post-match wrap-up.
“That’s the regulation,” mentioned Highlanders head Tony Brown. “The referees are doing an excellent job at refereeing the regulation, and gamers aren’t adapting fast sufficient.
“Simply not fairly good sufficient in these conditions, for us, and clearly the Chiefs had a few these conditions as nicely.”
In years passed by, TMOs have been in a position to supply their steerage in real-time. These guidelines have modified, nonetheless, and the impacts of that change had been clear in Saturday night time’s #SuperRugbyAotearoa conflict. #HIGvCHI
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) April 10, 2021
Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan had an analogous take.
“Loads of the penalties are legit,” he mentioned. “Gamers on either side wanted to be smarter.
“So long as the referees are constant. In the event that they ask you to not advance on a kick then don’t advance. It’s so simple as that.”
McMillan, who’s now led the Chiefs to 3 victories on the trot, didn’t lump all of the blame on his gamers, nonetheless.
“It’s in all probability difficult at occasions, particularly right here [at Forsyth Barr Stadium]. The noise is unbelievable underneath the roof.
“Whereas we will hear the refs’ comms in our field fairly clear, not everybody on the sphere goes to have the ability to hear that, or see when individuals put them onside.
“So, they’re going to be slightly inaccurate at occasions there, however so long as the referees are constant then we simply must be higher in that area.”
The Chiefs’ 26-23 extra-time win takes them into third place on the Tremendous Rugby Aotearoa desk – two forward of the Highlanders (who’ve performed an additional recreation) and two behind the Blues.
Whereas the Chiefs’ finals destiny remains to be in their very own fingers, the Highlanders at the moment are successfully out of the competition.
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