Friday, March 13, 2015

Pat Lam and the House of Cardiffs



Before I start harping on, I'd just like to make it clear that this post is NOT intended to cover the topic of the incident itself...that has been done to death in other places, here included.  My only concern here for now is how we move on.

Of all the opinions expressed regarding Pat Lam's outburst a week ago, there seems to be something of a consensus...he was hard done by at Cardiff Arms Park but overstepped the mark with his post-match retribution.

So if that is true, where do we go from here?  Is there a way in which the matter can be dealt with while also taking into consideration an understanding for his frustration?

Well, here's what I'd do...first, dealing with Pat himself...

1) Give him a tough-ish punishment at his hearing, like a 3-week ban (before you explode Connacht fans, hear me out!!!)

2) Allow him to appeal (when I say "allow" I mean let him know there will be no negative consequences), setting the date for AFTER the Munster v Connacht match.  This provides an excuse for replacing Leighton Hodges as referee for that Pro12 fixture, which surely has to be done given his direct involvement in the situation.

3) Reduce the ban to just 1 game on appeal, which he would have already served at Thomond Park, so he would then be free to resume his duties.

Yeah, I know it's all very "Machiavellian" but I've just finished watching Season 3 of House of Cards so I guess I'm in that kind of place.  But that's not all that needs to be done...to avoid something similar happening again, more pro-active measures will have to be put in place...

4) The Pro12 must deal with one of its biggest elephants in the room, namely referee neutrality.  With European places at stake, matches like Cardiff v Connacht are having a much bigger significance these days and should be treated accordingly.  

In an improptu debate thread on twitter during the week, Simon Thomas of WalesOnline asked about where the money would come from to fund the transport & accommodation of international referees.  Well, while it's a fair question, I'm not so sure it's a roadblock on the way to a solution.

The Pro12 is officially a competition on a par with the Premiership, Top14, ITM Cup and Currie Cup...but having said that, it is unique in that it spans as many as four top tier unions.  For this reason why can't World Rugby get involved?

I have heard many ask why can't Scottish and Italian refs handle Welsh v Irish clashes.  Well before we discuss the lack of quality of officiating from those countries, let us also remember that they each provide half the amount of teams as both Wales and Ireland yet we'd be expecting them to provide teams of officials for matches between the celtic cousins.  In exchange it would be much easier for the WRU and IRFU to officiate the much less frequent Glasgow v Treviso and Zebre v Embra clashes.

So even if it's only for the 32 times per season regions face provinces, maybe World Rugby can chip in and try to blood some up and coming referees & assistants for whom they would like to give international match experience?

I'm not saying that's a silver bullet, but it is a suggestion.

5) Finally...when RWC2015 is done and dusted and World Rugby is looking at how to improve the game, the whole area of the TMO needs to be re-examined once more.  

Personally, I'd be in favour of something like a "coach's challenge" whereby each side has one opportunity per game to ask for the TMO to be used.  But whether that's the solution or not, while video replay has helped the pro game a lot since it's introduction, the rules still have many kinks which need ironing out.

Right...now that I've taken care of that whole situation with my 5-point plan, I can move on to fixing rugby's problems at the breakdown.  Or world peace, whichever seems easier. JLP
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