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Bath 19-19 Northampton
Fans abuse referee at final whistle
ESPN Staff
May 2, 2014
After checking the TV replay, referee Matthew Carley overruled his touch judge after he flagged for a late hit on George Ford within kicking range © Getty Images

Once again, in what seems to be a worrying and growing trend, the referee was subjected to a torrent of abuse at the final whistle of the Bath-Northampton Premiership game at The Rec.

Zero tolerance vital

  • The apparent abuse aimed from spectators at referee Matthew Carley as he left the field after last night's Bath-Northampton match is just the latest incident in what has been a depressing month for those who believe that rugby is played in a different spirit to football.

    Yes, it was a tiny minority involved, as is almost always quickly pointed out, and passions run high when sport is involved. But that does not excuse such behaviour. And when treated in context with other incidents, it is hard not to start thinking something is going wrong at all levels.

    Click here for the full feature

Matthew Carley was blamed by some for a late decision in the 19-19 draw when Northampton's Courtney Lawes was initially judged to have put in an off-the-ball hit on Bath's George Ford, but after consultation with the TMO a penalty was not awarded to Bath and the game finished with the scores level.

Bath fans were left upset by the decision and according to Northampton Saints lock Christian Day gave Carley some "shocking" abuse.

"Walked off next to the ref at the end and the abuse he got was shocking," tweeted Day. "Don't care if he got it right or wrong. Doesn't belong in rugby."

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder refused to criticise the referee, saying it was a job that he couldn't do. "I think the result was probably just about fair. I'm not going to criticise the referee. It's a difficult job, isn't it - I couldn't do it."

Bath head coach Mike Ford was more frustrated. "I think it was a fair result but we're disappointed with that last play because the referee put his arm out and we took the snap drop goal, thinking we had the penalty. We are massively disappointed with the use of the TMO but at the same time we shouldn't have conceded the penalty which made it 19-19."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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