Leading referees reprimanded for blunder
March 20, 2014
Stuart Berry blows for time last weekend © Getty Images
Leading referees Stuart Berry and Johan Greeff have been reprimanded for an error which cost the Blues a Super Rugby victory over the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend, but the South African officials will still officiate in the Lions' home game against Queensland Reds on Saturday.
On-field referee Berry and television match official Greeff combined to award a second-half try to the Lions in their 39-36 win even though replays showed that centre Deon van Rensburg had lost the ball forward in a tackle from winger Charles Piutau.
SANZAR referees' boss Lyndon Bray said Greeff, under prompting from Berry, was wrong to rule that Piutau had stripped the ball, which was then pounced on by Lions fullback Coenie van Wyk. "The onus is on the ball carrier to maintain possession while being tackled," he said. "Therefore, this should have been ruled as a knock-on and subsequently, no try.
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan, who contested a number of decisions from the game, his team's third loss, said after the match that the try had proved decisive as it had halted his side's momentum as they fought back from their 17-0 half-time deficit.
Kirwan said on Thursday that Bray's statement represented "a step in the right direction … we're in the industry of accountability so I thought it was great of him to come out and say that they got something wrong, because that means they're working hard on getting a lot right. It's a positive for us".
Berry and Greeff will take the same respective referee and TMO roles in the Lions' match against Queensland.
The mistake was the second going against the Blues in the space of a fortnight. Bray said a try awarded to the Bulls in their win over the Blues at Loftus Versfeld should also have been disallowed. "That's a very good example of where a player quite clearly moves his body in order to be able to place the ball," he said. "So ultimately, yes, that should have been no try."
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