Hey IRB, do something about your refs

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When is the IRB going to do something about the shocking state of officiating in the modern game of rugby? Having just sat through what was potentially the most frustrating 80 minutes of refereeing since the infamous Bryce Lawrence incident of 2011 – I feel I can say with total confidence that Rohan Hofmann delivered an inept, one-sided performance.


Sure, the Stormers weren’t good enough – any team that goes down 25 – 3 probably doesn’t deserve to win. The guys really need to be better right from the kickoff if they ever hope to seriously compete in this competition.

That’s a side issue though, one that we won’t be addressing today.

What we want to talk about is the ref.

How is it that the IRB have allowed this rot to continue for so long? What are they doing to improve the standard of refereeing? Not nearly enough if you ask me.

In my opinion, referees need to be scored post-match and if their performance does not live up to expectations, then they should be made aware of that and then made to face some consequences.

One way this could pan out would be a scorecard system, whereby the ref is given a score out of a 100 for a game and is then paid accordingly. So for today’s performance for example, Hofmann would’ve scored 21% and if he gets paid R10 000 per game – he’d receive R2 100. After having his pocket severely affected, would he analyse his performance and be better in the next game? I think he would.

Further, they could consider citing and suspending refs if they score less than 50% for two consecutive games, with the length of punishment directly proportionate to performance on the day.

My feeling is that this process also needs to be public – supporters want to know what is being done about the situation.

I think the IRB have to ask themselves who the most important stakeholder is in the game of rugby.

I know the answer: it’s the supporters

We are the ones who wake up early, go to bed late, buy supporters’ jerseys, pay premium pay TV subscriptions just to have the privilege of watching sport, visit the stadium and more – all with the hope of catching a good game of rugby, only to be robbed by the least important person on the field on any given match day.

It’s an absolute joke and if the IRB doesn’t start doing something about it, it’s going to cost them supporters.


  1. This truly is a stupid idea.

    I do not believe for one second that the IRB of the panel of referees are content with some of the officiating that’s going on right now. But naming and shaming will not improve anything. It would rather lead to more referees hanging up their whistles and less of them taking up refereeing as a profession.

    I can assure you that right now there is a scoring system of some sorts going on and the referees all know exactly where they stand and how they have preformed. But this is not made publick and should never be made publick.

    Yes, the fans are the people who buys tickets, pay their subscriptions and buys supporter’s great. But they are not objective and thus should never be involved in the process of rating a referee.

    A referee is there to merely observe what is transpiring in front of him and faithfully apply his knowledge and skills to let the game run its course.

    This can only be accomplished if a referee had the support and guidance of his peers and superiors. Not some reality show type ridiculing you suggest they be exposed to.

    1. Hi Bloues

      Thanks for the comment – always enjoy a bit of heated banter!

      I hear you, this is potentially not the best idea for sorting this issue out but as we said, it’s one way this could pan out – certainly not the only way. Also, just to be clear – we never proposed a naming and shaming – we simply proposed a more transparent feedback process and if it came across that way then we apologize.

      Also, just a point of clarity, we never said that the public should be involved in scoring – that is a horrible idea – they aren’t rugby experts and as such shouldn’t have a say. We’re just asking for feedback on what is being done about the poor performances that happen far too often.

      I do think that in the same way the public shouldn’t be involved in scoring refs – so too is it unrealistic to expect them to have sympathy for refs who have a bad game because more often than not, when they have a bad day, consequences are dire. Are you saying that SA should’ve been more sympathetic of Bryce Lawrence in 2011? How can you expect that when it cost us a crack at the trophy?

      Lastly, I am respectfully indifferent to whether a review process leads to refs hanging up their whistles. The game is not designed to make famous referees, the only thing that matters is consistent impartiality, and the refs who get that right are the ones who make a name for themselves.

      The only thing we need from them is to let the game of rugby be the winner on the day.


  2. and then the damage has been done, even the commentators did not agree with the refs call with the one Stormers try and seeing most of the commentators are ex rugby players, they should be heard as well

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