Thursday, June 02, 2011
One of the games of the weekend was this classic Super Rugby meeting between the Reds and the Crusaders, a game that went right down to the wire and ended with more than a small touch of controversy.
It was a low scoring, yet intense game with a fantastic test match feel to it. Two of the top number tens of the world game came up against each other, with Quade Cooper pulling out some incredible stuff, although Dan Carter probably got the better of him in the end with an incredibly polished all round performance.
It was Cooper who celebrated at the final whistle however, as a capacity crowd of 48 000 watched on as he slotted a last minute penalty, a kick that took the Reds into a 17-16 lead.
While the Reds were fantastic and in many respects deserved the win, there's been plenty of talk about the manner in which they got there in the end, most notably through the inefficiencies of referee Stuart Dickinson and his touch judges.
They missed a few things on the night, and while that will always be the case as refs are human and tend to err from time to time, there have been big question marks over his performance. Some went as far as to call it bias towards the Australian side, while others simply felt it was below par, which at such a crucial stage in the comp, is unforgivable.
There was a suspect looking pass early in the game, then in the lead up to the final play a ball appeared to have gone forward. The biggest talking point though has been his decision to ping Richie McCaw for using his hands in a ruck, right in front of the posts in the dying moments.
McCaw clearly disagreed, but the worrying matter here is that there's such a vast difference of opinion as to whether it was the right or wrong call. Referee boss Lyndon Bray chose to defend Dickinson publicly, although he apparently said later that there are definitely grey areas. SANZAR's Greg Peters has said that Dickinson will be under review, as is the norm.
McCaw, who gave away the penalty, somehow escaped the wrath of the fans as everything seemed to be directed at Dickinson, but the greater issue is that there's so much confusion around the breakdown. When top referees, pundits, and former test players can't call it conclusively either way, surely that's a bit of a problem, especially as we're trying to grow the game? Of course it's a debate that lingers on though, and will always be a touchy subject.
Unfortunately what it did do is take away from a great game of rugby, of which you can view highlights below. For those of you who also enjoy a bit of post match discussion and analysis, the second clip in the playlist is a snippet from Reunion, where it's debated from a New Zealand perspective. Enjoy, and feel free to leave some thoughts as a comment below.