CAPE TOWN – Some things will probably forever remain a mystery.
The Lost City of Atlantis. The construction of the pyramids. How Sanzaar could possibly find it in any way OKAY for a referee to officiate a match involving his former team.
Referees stealing the show for reasons that aren’t exactly flattering is nothing new.
We’ve seen them ruin contests and sometimes even make the actual match seem like a sideshow in comparison to their eye-catching blunders.
But this past weekend, it was former Western Province and Stormers wing Egon Seconds’ appointment as the man in the middle for the Stormers’ home game against the Lions that presented another ref talking point before the game even kicked off.
Why would an appointment like that even be considered?
The topic of neutral refs has been around for a while.
Seeing Australian Angus Gardner handle the game between the Brumbies and the Chiefs at Canberra Stadium seemed perfectly acceptable in comparison to what went down at Newlands.
The problem with Seconds’ appointment – aside from it being ridiculous – is that an official in that situation will surely overcompensate, and there’s no way that can ever be fair towards one of the teams involved (in this case, the Stormers).
Sure, many would say the Stormers ended up benefiting from the appointment (and that Malcolm Marx ruck situation will be the first thing to be mentioned). But regardless of which side you’re on when it comes to that scenario, there can be no doubt that such appointments taint the quality of a contest, before it’s even begun.
That overcompensation was clear right from the start of the match at Newlands, and even though Seconds eased it off in the latter stages of the game, the mere fact that it’s even a consideration is an issue. A big one.
Take the Six Nations battle between Wales and England at the Millennium Stadium, for example. How good was that match? And not only the encounter itself, but just having a completely neutral ref in Jaco Peyer taking charge of two northern-hemisphere teams.
Overall, he handled the game well under pressure in front of an overwhelming crowd of 60 000.
And even if he had had a bad one, there would be no room for any accusations of bias or one team feeling like they’re in for a tough time because of the official’s association with either side.
Surely that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out?