Fiji robbed by referees

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 April, 2006, 12:00am

I was interested in the letter of Thomas Hohl (April 5) who, claiming to be a neutral and Hong Kong Sevens enthusiast, states: 'I cannot help but notice that England, while playing very good rugby, have had all major decisions go in their favour.'

He tells us that in each of England's knockout games, Samoa, South Africa and Fiji had tough referee calls, which severely handicapped them. What he failed to mention was the worst referee inconsistency in the whole tournament.

In the final the Australian referee, having seen fit to produce a yellow card and sin bin a Fijian for a bad tackle on an Englishman - putting Fiji under a big disadvantage for the powerful and fast English team to exploit with two tries in the two minutes - had another incident to deal with when a bad tackle was made by an Englishman upon a Fijian.

It was sufficiently bad for the referee to caution the player but he did not yellow card the Englishman. Why then did he not take the option of formally cautioning the Fijian player earlier without sending him off? It smacked of bias.

Either way, for or against, I perhaps cannot be called a neutral as I am Welsh, though I do my best to be fair-minded. Following the contentiously officiated knockout games involving England, a visiting Welsh rugby club I sat with in the stands, upon the final whistle, didn't stay for the presentation ceremonies but left instantly, disgusted with some of the refereeing, and with the sense of injustice that easily the best team, Fiji, had been denied this year's title, because of referee calls.

Another oddity about what was in almost every respect a splendidly organised tournament, the ticketing issue apart, was that although before each match the name of the referee was announced, his nationality was not. You had to consult a programme for that.

To quote Mr Hohl's final comment: 'I am hopeful that these issues do not go unnoticed when a review of the tournament takes place.'