Todays rugby news sees discipline loom as the All Blacks’ Achilles Heel, a good time to own two televisions for 7:00pm Thursday night (Wallaroos v NZ and Jnr Wallabies v Ireland) and referee Ben O’Keeffe discusses Super Final perfomance.
NZ players growing accustomed to lenient treatment?
The Super Rugby Pacific final had an obvious moment that would likely have been treated more harshly had it happened anywhere else in the world.
The incident saw Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown charge after a kick-off and make a high-impact tackle on Crusaders wing Dallas McLeod.
The tackle was technically poor and the experienced All Blacks midfielder’s head made initial contact with McLeod’s head with some force.
McLeod didn’t return – he failed his HIA – and given that Lienert-Brown came from distance, had uninterrupted sightlines and every opportunity to drop his own body height before contact, it should have been a straight red card.
Referee Ben O’Keefe determined yellow and then TMO, Brendon Pickerill, who had 10 minutes to decide whether it should be upgraded to red, also felt it only merited a caution rather than a sending off.
It was almost as if the officials didn’t want to spoil the occasion by handing out a red.
Lienert-Brown was forced to attend a disciplinary hearing after the game because it was deemed by the citing commissioner that his tackle had met the red card threshold.
Gregor Paul argues that there is a pattern of games in New Zealand being refereed more leniently when it comes to collisions where the head is involved. These include Reds lock Connor Vest breaking his neck in a tackle against the Highlanders – deemed an accidental collision.
In 2022, there wasn’t a red card shown in New Zealand in the first eight weeks. The anomaly was that there had been three shown in Australia by that stage and the feeling grew then that New Zealand referees were more willing and able to find mitigating circumstances to downgrade things.
Paul says that this is why there is some concern building about how well Super Rugby Pacific has prepared the All Blacks for their 2023 Test programme – noting that, at the World Cup, a red card will be applied under the existing laws and the offending player will not be allowed to be replaced.
Dallinger Escape Plan – Wallaroos v Black Ferns Thursday 7 pm AEST at Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe.
Finn Moreton of RugbyPass has profiled NZ-born Wallaroo Carys Dallinger ahead of Thursday night’s game.
Like many New Zealanders, the playmaker grew up “chasing that black jersey dream.” But Dallinger’s rugby career has taken her across the ditch.
Dallinger will wear Wallaroos gold on Thursday instead of the famous black jersey, and will stand respectfully in front of the haka rather than performing it alongside some of her friends.
“Quite nerve-wracking but also really excited at the same time,” Dallinger told RugbyPass. “There’s a lot of mixed emotions because a lot of them are my friends and I’ve grown up playing with them.”
“You’ve got to play the best to be the best so I’m excited for that challenge.”
“Just fortunate enough to be picked for the Wallaroos and give this a go… international footy is the goal at the end of the day.”
Dallinger starred in Super Rugby Aupiki with the Hurricanes Poua and the Queensland Reds in Australia.
But after losing the Super W to the Fijiana Drua in Townsville, the 23-year-old was set to return to New Zealand – but received a phone call from her manager.
Dallinger’s agent informed the skilful playmaker – who was eligible for New Zealand, Australia and England – that her flights had been put on hold.
After officially being included in the Wallaroos squad, the flyhalf made her international debut against Fiji at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium earlier this year.
Dallinger will link up with Layne Morgan in the halves in Redcliffe, and joins a star-studded line-up for the clash.
Western Force lock Michaele Leonard will captain the side for the first time.
Jnr Wallabies make 10 changes for Ireland clash (Thursday 7pm AEST)
Nathan Wiliamson of Rugby.com.au reports that Junior Wallabies coach Nathan Grey has made 10 changes to the starting side that overcame a spirited Fiji side on Sunday (AEST time), with Jhy Legg, Lachlan Hooper, Darby Lancaster, David Vaihu and Mason Gordon the players remaining.
Teddy Wilson re-takes the captaincy, partnering Easts and Waratahs teammate Jack Bowen in the halves.
Player-of-the-match Vaihu is joined by Henry O’Donnell in the centres as Tim Ryan comes onto the wing.
Waratahs prop Jack Barrett comes into the front row, with Force young gun Marley Pearce copping a red card for his high shot during the win.
He is joined by Daniel Maiava-Tapusoa, who was a late withdrawal, and vice-captain Ned Slack-Smith in the forward pack.
The Junior Wallabies sit top of Pool B, with Ireland coming off a 34-all draw against England in their opening match.
The Irish are the benchmark at the U20 level, winning back-to-back Six Nations as they went through the tournament undefeated.
“Ireland has been the benchmark in the Under-20 Six Nations for the last two years and their draw against England last weekend was a high quality match,” Grey added.
“We’re excited to test ourselves against a Northern Hemisphere team for the first time in four years and keen to deliver a performance that showcases both our attacking style and our commitment in defence.”
Referee Ben O’Keeffe discusses Super Final
PlanetRugby reports on Ben O’Keeffe’s comments after a ten-hour performance review.
The Crusaders won their seventh straight trophy defeating the Chiefs 20-25 in the showpiece, with O’Keeffe admitting that it was not a flawless display.
In an unprecedented move, O’Keeffe gave insight into the review of his performance and explained how he missed one of the crucial decisions that played a role in the game’s outcome.
“I look at every single play in the game, pass, potential decision, potential non-decision, my positioning, the way I communicate,” O’Keeffe told sports radio station SENZ.
“It takes me probably a good 10 hours to go through the game, forward, rewind. I’m clipping, I’m coding, and really trying to find the detail. Because I want to give really good feedback to the coaches.”
O’Keeffe issued a yellow card to Luke Jacobson after repeated penalties in the first half, a decision the review panel told him was spot on.
However, he admitted that he missed the forward pass from Jack Goodhue before the lineout that from which Richie Mo’unga scored a try. O’Keeffe accepted responsibility for the mistake and refused to throw any of his assistants under the bus.
“That was a clear forward pass that we missed from the Crusaders. It’s my responsibility to get that,” he said before explaining how he missed it.
“What I actually noticed when I did my review is that I moved into the d-line (defensive line) as I transitioned. When the ball was passed behind me, I went in there too deep, so I was about four or five metres behind the d-line.”
“We want to take half a step, get behind the d-line and as the defender comes through, you move back with the defender, so you can quickly get back into what’s a ball in line position, so you can get in line for those passes, and that’s something I didn’t do.”
O’Keeffe says that young referees have reached out to him to thank him for speaking up against the abuse he has received, as they are getting similar abuse weekly.
“I feel really proud that I’ve had multiple younger referees, referees in community rugby in New Zealand, who have messaged me to thank me because they were starting to feel unsafe with the abuse they’ve been getting in the weekends, they were thinking about hanging up the whistle because what was happening to them in the middle of the field,” he said.