It was cold and blustery and though dry, it threatened rain. The game was barely 30 seconds old before the visitors (green) lost a centre to a sprained knee. The home side is one of the few at this level that provides a physio which is comforting to know that side of things is covered safely. Despite the pain, he somehow recovered to make an appearance in the second half as a replacement. Except that wasn’t allowed in a league game, so his 38 second cameo was all we saw of him. The restart scrum provided the first of many indiscretions as the home (red) hooker goes in crooked on the opposition hooker. This was to be a start of a torrent of offences at the scrum, I think I may have almost a full house; boring (both tight heads), foot up (twice), feed not straight (both scrum halfs), not binding, driving up. It all became a dull progression of whistles, resets and whinging about that which I needed to look out for- Did Red wheel? Was that last feed straight – sorry I was watching the binding that time, please play the game!
Both sides spent the first half questioning and trying to referee the game for me. My patience snapped as Green attacked on the Red 22, they knocked on and as Red collected and started to spin it wide, the Red stand-off scream “Knock-on”, yes I saw it, I was planning advantage, but it’s going to be a penalty against Red for dissent. Despite this the comment continued though the stand-off remained quiet. By the start of the second half both sides had quietened down but not before a similar penalty against Green.(Tip: if you are the only South African/Kiwi/Aussie on the team, it makes it very easy for the referee to figure you if you speak out of turn)
As the penalty count crept up, I found myself letting some of the 50-50 calls ride to allow the game to develop some flow, but this generates its own problems as players perceive that poor play goes unpunished. However, the game remained spikey and competitive to the end with Green ending up as deserving winner but the 20-7 score didn’t reflect Red’s contribution to the game.
Things to take out of it are still more scope for tightening up chat – this time there should have been a card and the same goes for scrumaging- the message just wasn’t getting through.