Lions must use power for good – Jake

Jake White

The Lions will win the Super Rugby final. They’re at home, the Crusaders have had to fly to Johannesburg and captain Kieran Read is carrying an injury.

It will be a fantastic result and a big boost for rugby in South Africa, but let’s make sure that we use our position as Super Rugby champions to speak out about which areas of the competition need to be fixed, because speaking out when you come second, third or fourth sounds like you’re whinging.

There’s been a lot of whinging about referee Jaco Peyper’s officiating at Ellis Park in the semi-final, and that made me think about the infamous Flower Bomb Test between the All Blacks and South Africa at Eden Park in 1981.

Allan Hewson won the match with a penalty kick in injury time. People who remember that Test still talk about Welsh referee Clive Norling blowing that penalty – we still think it was a crap decision, but imagine if Norling had been a Kiwi!?

In a sport where coaches get hired and fired on results, and television rights are in the millions of dollars, how do we not have a neutral referee in these games?

I’m not saying Peyper or any other referee is cheating, but the competition opens itself up to criticism by appointing officials with national ties to one of the teams. If Peyper makes any decision against the home team, he’s vilified, and when he blows in favour of the home team, people ask questions.

I look at Super Rugby and I ask why we don’t have money to fly an Australian referee to South Africa for the semi-finals.

The Hurricanes went from 22-3 up to losing the semi-final on a massive yellow-card decision. When you look at that decision in the context of a competition where a lot of players weren’t yellow-carded for incidents that were worse than that, I can see how that’s a bitter pill for the Kiwis to swallow, and how Peyper’s nationality is an easy target.

In that decision, the rematch of last year’s final was negatively affected by the sending off of the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year in the Lions’ first home semi-final. That’s not a great advert for the competition.

Do you think New Zealand will ever play in a World Cup final with a Kiwi ref? If the answer is no, then how can we accept it in Super Rugby?

There’s more money in rugby now than there ever was before, and we used to have neutral referees. There was a time when Jonathan Kaplan couldn’t ref Sharks games because he lived in Durban. And in the French championship, you can’t have a referee controlling a match if he lives in the same area as one of the teams.

As a schoolmaster, if my team was invited to a rugby tournament where the home team got to pick the referees, I wouldn’t sign up for that. So how can that happen in the professional game?

And then we wonder why the Crusaders played their semi-final at a half-empty AMI Stadium. We’re talking about the seven-time champions against the Chiefs, and it was far from full. The Hurricanes played Australia’s top side in the quarter-final, and their stadium was empty.

For the Lions, about 30,000 people went to Ellis Park. I remember times, during the Super 6 and Super 10, when you couldn’t get a ticket to see Transvaal play Queensland.

The two Kiwi teams that had to travel for the semi-finals both lost. That shows you how much of a factor travel is in Super Rugby. And that’s why you can pretty much look at the draw at the beginning of the season and work out who is going to reach the semi-finals.

Professional sport can’t survive like that. The most followed sports leagues in the world are the ones that are the least predictable.

Rugby needs to level the playing fields to bring back contests that are less predictable, and the Lions can help that process by speaking out. After they beat the Crusaders.

- Jake White

Let's chat

  • mike

    Funny…. did you give the same unsolicited advice to the Canes after they beat the Lions last year …with Glenn Jackson blowing the game?!

    • Shane

      You right…. Jake giving credence to Kiwi BS..

      When have you ever seen a ball been taken out of the ruck by a player trying to roll away? NEVER!

      Barret was cheating pure and simple.

      Just because the Kiwi’s winge on their stupid biased show he’s jumping on the bandwagon.

    • Barry

      EXACTLY !!! Was just thinking that as well

    • Hein

      Well said. The NZ teams always cry foul when they lose.

    • Johan Goosen

      Don’t be silly. When we complain we are bad losers, when the great, all knowing, immortal, self righteous, McCaw-never-offside, rolling away slowly (because we are cool), All Blacks lose, then SUDDENLY we need neutral referees, after many years of non-neutral referees.

      Another note, SA teams have always (in the previous format) had to travel twice as long as NZ and Aus teams. We can also see that travel and home ground advantage helps teams immensely (ie. Lions are top), therefore for many years NZ teams had the “easy” ride to the top. But, I don’t see this mention anywhere, now that the shoe is on the other foot.

      Why not?

      Is it just because suddenly NZ is favored as much as they usually are?

      • pieter

        Well said son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • humblepie

    Are there still people in South Africa that wants to hear what Jake White has to say?
    There is so much negativity at the knock-out stages that it is no wonder that stadiums are empty. I am also disappointed in the whining of the NZ teams. I used to respect and praise them for their sportsmanship and hope that they will rediscover this.
    Big picture:
    The Lions have shown enormous character and innovation to get where they are and they have proven many so-called experts wrong over the past 2 years. They continue to inspire us and make us proud. Last year they played the final against the Hurricanes with a NZ ref. Not a word of whining either before or after the game. That is how it should be done.
    I am disappointed that I wont be able to be at Ellispark this coming weekend. It is going to be an enormous game and people will no doubt talk about it around braai’s for years to come. Teams started to copy the Lions playing style and spirit and journalists will start reviewing their paradigm on how the game should be played. Exciting times to be a South African rugby supporter.

    • Kabous

      What JW forgot about rugby we still have to learn.

  • Greg

    I have to agree with all of the above scribes – SA rugby for far too long bows to the pressures of overseas teams losing in SA and accepting that it was always the fault of either “Suzi” or “The Ref” or some other thing that may or may not be correct, however, is any consideration given to the player’s who themselves who have put their bodies on the line and played to the ref’s whistle and now must listen to the whinging about how the either won or lost – its time that rubgy supporters and EXPERTS alike accept the result for what it is. The Canes were outplayed the 2nd half yellow card or not and to Jeff WIlson and John Kirwan sorry fella’s your team lost and the kiwi teams are not unbeatable so lets hope this weekend we see a great game of rugby and may the best team win – good luck to the Crusaders and LIONS we are all sitting with you on this one. the sore loser – we only have to go back to the RWC semi-final SA vs Aus to know that there will be bad games blown but one has to accept that

  • paul

    Who was Jake White again ?

    • Luke

      That guy with a WC trophy.

  • Warren

    All you non-Lions and Pro-Cusaders stop bitching ! We Won last week because we outplayed them stop moaning about the damn ref last week we we’re on the way to score that’s the point Its professional rugby so don’t make amateur mistakes especially right in front of the try line.

    Face it, even though we did not play any NZ Team. the Lions can win them so soak it up. Its our Time. No Excuses

    Now all of a sudden a south african ref in a final is a problem… this shit should be brought up before the competition starts not when the final is about to start.

  • Andre

    The last time I checked Glen Jackson was the ref in last years final… So stop moaning…

  • eban

    Mr White, surely you should know better. Has anyone got the stats of how many tries the New Zealand sides have stopped by rather giving a penalty away rather than a try. These professional fouls must be stopped. Well done Mr Peyper. More referees should stop this purposeful play of the New Zealanders. They are coached to stop the tries.

    • Hopeful

      I couldn’t agree more…..they are blatant in this regard and get a slap on the wrist for their professional fouls…

  • Thys

    What about Ari Sivea’s try.The lock playing Cronje in an offside position by knocking the ball out of his hands never got blown up. The Lions never complain about it but went on an play the best rugby of the two teams, again with Jantjies try the reserve hooker(16) played from a offside position to stop the Lions from playing fast but never got penalized(yellow card). Mr Peyper made mistakes towards both teams which balance out at the end.

    • Neil

      You are so right! Good insight!

    • JP

      Dear Thys – you are the ONLY person that I have seen on all the websites that has acknowledged that try as an indiscretion. You are 100% correct. That player was offsides when he played Ross. Nobody has mentioned this – not Nick Mallet, Naas, Jake or any other “professional commentator”. I guess we are just so used to the NZ teams playing offsides.

  • Shane

    We smashed them pure and simple… ref or no ref…
    Stop whining about something that does not affect the game.

    • John

      22- 3 down .. not really smashing

  • John

    As a Lions supporter, I would rather loose the game then win it with bad decisions from the referee. The yellow in the semi was just a penalty and not more. The quarter was also won by a controversial yellow. So even if we win it will be tainted.

Comments are closed.