Bryce Lawrence may not referee in South Africa
In a recent article on PlanetRugby Bryce Lawrence has stated that he may not referee games in South Africa.
the article is reproduced below:
Under fire New Zealand-born referee Bryce Lawrence says he won't officiate in South Africa if he fears for his safety.
This comes after his performance at last month's World Cup quarter-final between the Springboks and Australia.
Lawrence's control of the October 9 quarter-final, won 11-9 by Australia to end South Africa' reign as world champions, was strongly criticised by Springbok players, coaching staff and fans.
Retiring Springbok captain John Smit said "the one positive (of retirement) is that I won't ever have to be reffed by him again" and a South African fan began a Facebook campaign entitled "Petition To Stop Bryce Lawrence Ever Reffing A Rugby Game Again."
Lawrence said in a radio interview on Wednesday he would not referee in South Africa "if there's any personal threat or I have concerns about my safety".
The fact that Bryce Lawrence needs to think this shows how fast our game is currently sliding down a slippery slope, the loss of respect for those that go out there to try and referee a game of rugby as best they can, whilst 30 players try and see how far they can bend the laws is unprecedented.
While Bryce may not have refereed his best game at the Rugby World Cup, he certainly should not have to fear for his safety, in any other job the harassment and bullying aimed at him would be unlawful, breaching countless company policies and legal legislation, but because he's a referee he's fair game, right? WRONG!
It's a very famous saying for most professionals in any trade that you are only as good as your last balls up, and whilst the perception of this phase is true, the reality is very different. Even at this level referees learn from their experiences at every game, and to expect a referee to make no mistakes, is as futile as expecting no knock ons in a game.
It matters not of you do or don't like a certain referees style, after all you can't actually say you don't like them, unless you actually know them, as a player and coach you need to adapt. At this level the coaches will have all the information on the referee for the game ahead, they will know where they award most penalties, and where they seem to not award many, they will see trends in their games and try to exploit them, this is the professional age of rugby, and the rewards for getting it right are rich.
So the fact that at the last 2 world cups no less than 5 referees have been lambasted with criticism (Barnes v NZ 2007, Barnes v Wales 2011, Rolland v Wales 2011, Owens v Samoa 2011, Lawrence v South Africa 2011, Joubert v France 2011), and most with some sort of threat of physical abuse or death threats is a sad state of affairs.
What good is our game if certain referees cannot referee at certain places because of certain fans threatening them? In the end all referees will be a target because someone won't have liked a decision they have made.
Time to grow up people, be passionate, be supportive, but most of all be respectful to all involved, players, coaches, support staff, officials and other supporters.