Referees to strike back with organised criticism of players
The International Rugby Board has revealed that from the start of the 2012/2013 northern hemisphere season referees will be permitted to openly criticise players, officials and fans.
The IRB have announced plans to actively encourage officials to verbally attack players and coaches to counter balance the often stinging criticism they receive.
“It’s about having a level playing field,” said John Fields of the IRB referee’s panel. “Since rugby first began back in the Victorian era umpires, officials or referees have been subject to constant, and usually completely unfair, criticism. I was a top level referee for many years and it can be very tough to listen to a cacophony of whistles and jeers from players and spectators and be unable to respond at all. It’s especially difficult when you know that you’ve made the right decision.”
The IRB have issued all major media outlets, as well as all professional rugby organisations worldwide, with a DVD highlighting over 2,000 examples of technically perfect refereeing decisions being criticised not only by players during the match but also for days afterwards in the press.
“Since the game went professional in 1995 this kind of thing has gotten a lot worse,” said Fields. “Rugby has become a little more like soccer in its sensationalism and public whinging and moaning by supposedly wronged parties. The respect for the referee, once a shining beacon at the heart of our great game’s core, has eroded. So we’ve decided: ‘sod it’. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. From now on we want our officials to criticise players and, where appropriate, mock them for their mistakes. The gloves are off. Now let’s see how they like it when they are on the receiving end.”
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