Craig Joubert – a case for vilification?

20 Oct

Let’s hope that Craig Joubert’s infamy will soon be relegated from the cause celebre it appears to be. The rugby ref who made a mistake which arguably cost the Scots a quarter final victory has been vilified unforgiveably. His name is being spat upon by the tartan rugby army and many others who should know better.

Craig’s international career appears to be in tatters. Let’s examine what happened. In the final minute of a game in which Australia had dominated, scoring 5 tries to the one opportunistic interception try of the Scots, CJ awarded a penalty for offside against Scottish prop John Welsh. JW had caught a ball in an offside position in front of his team. Joubert had not seen the Aussie Nick Phipps’ contact with the ball which would have rendered the offside as ‘accidental’. A scrum, rather than a penalty should have been given – to Australia. They might have scored from the next phase of play. Who knows?

Joubert ran from the pitch. The speculation is that he felt intimidated and wanted safety. Perhaps he knew he’d cocked up. He didn’t used the video-ref (TMO) because it wasn’t a decision that warranted it. He could have asked his linesmen for advice. Radio and TV commentators ‘called it’ the same way as Joubert before they had the hindsight of slo-mo replay. OK, he made a mistake.

Had the error happened at any other time in the game apart from  the final minutes, I wouldn’t be writing this and thousands of column inches and media invective would not have been expended. Of course the Scots have a right to feel hard done by. There are countless occasions in sport when bad luck plays a part. But rugby had a proud tradition of respect – and in particular respect for referees. The game has pioneered the use of video back-up. There may be a little way to go but this latest, unsavoury witch hunt threatens to place professional rugby union alongside its far grubbier neighbour – soccer.

The Captain of Wales, Sam Warburton tweeted a nauseating  ‘we know what it’s like to be hard done by’ message. The England camp were too busy enrolling heavyweight judges for the trial of Stuart Lancaster. If only Robshaw had opted to kick the final penalty..Luckily the Irish had a dignity level which befits the emerald isle. They just said that the better team (the Argies) won.

Rugby is a sport. Winning is important but other things count, they really do. There are plenty of better targets for vilification than the hapless Craig Joubert. Armstrong, Blatter…the Frenchman who spat on Chris Froome. There are cheats everywhere and corruption in far too many high places. But on the rugby pitch there are players…and referees…and mistakes. Vilification is wrong.

This is sport. It’s not Syria.

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4 Responses to “Craig Joubert – a case for vilification?”

  1. John Trotman October 20, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Spot on again, Sorro. people get over-excited in sport sometimes, of course (as I well remember myself, as a former frothing loud mouth on the touchline as a coach) but what is particularly unsavoury here is the vitriol long after the event and in some cases by people who weren’t involved but who never feel so alive as when they have a grievance. (Thank God it wasn’t Wayne Barnes slipping up. Carlisle and Newcastle would have been in flames…)
    I do think it is a pity that he ran off and I am sure that he regrets it. But anyone who has refereed anything (albeit a million miles away from the final minutes of such a high profile encounter) will know how difficult – and sometimes embarrassing – it is. Mistakes in rugby, by players and referees, are happening all the time. It’s a very complex game, played at very high speed.
    Oh, and the knife-sharpening over Lancaster, Robshaw and co is foul.

    • simplysorro October 20, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

      Thanks Trotty. I agree with all that you say. Someone just told me that Will Greenwood said something similar in the Telegraph today. I’m in good company. Hope to catch you when you are next over and get Chis involved as well as seeing the rather sad Martin.

  2. Richard Greensted October 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    Fortunately, in my glittering refereeing career (last fixture Medway 3rds V Gravesend 5ths) I made no errors, so I don’t know what Joubert is going through – AS IF! I came off after every game thinking about all the rotten decisions I’d made (as did most of the players). But Joubert lost his head – he should have asked his TJ. He then had the agony of seeing it replayed on the big screen endlessly as the winning kick sailed over. No wonder he ran – we’ve all done it! But the Scots need to ask themselves individually how many mistakes they made in the game before blaming Joubert for his isolated error. We can now look forward to the only Welsh gay referee in the village whistling in the final!

    • simplysorro October 20, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      Good to hear from you Richard. Time for lunch methinks.

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