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  • Referee calls off the France Vs Ireland game

    The France v Ireland game was called off moments before the scheduled last night due to the pitch being frozen.

    The referee, Dave Pearson of England, has received quite bad press about the late call off, but I believe unfairly so.

    The organisers obviously wanted the game to go ahead, as did the players & fans, but the officials and coaches were in constant discussion about the pitch. It is understood that parts of the pitch were already frozen and with the temperatures due to drop further as the night went on, the safety of the players had to be paramount.

    Dave Pearson decided on the final inspection that the pitch was not safe, which is exactly what he is required to do in law. The laws state:

    Law 1.6 states:

    1.6 OBJECTIONS TO THE GROUND

    (a) If either team has objections about the ground or the way it is marked out they must tell the referee before the match starts.

    (b) The referee will attempt to resolve the issues but must not start a match if any part of the ground is considered to be dangerous.


    I understand that there will be a lot of unhappy people that had travelled a long way to see the game, but if we are going to point at people, lets make sure we point at the right people.

    While Dave Pearson was the man that made the decision that the game could not go ahead, it was not him that decided to schedule a game in the middle of February late in the evening.

    There is no reason, apart from French preference, that the game could not have been played at the normal 3pm slot that all other games normally occupy.

    It was not Dave Pearson that decided to build a state of the art modern stadium in the north of Europe without undersoil heating.

    All Dave Pearson did was think about the safety of the 30+ men that would be running on it, and to be fair to the coaches, both backed the referee stating that it was the correct decision.

    This is of course no comfort to those that have spent a lot of money travelling to the game, but alas, these things happen in the midst of a cold winter. Most Grassroots rugby games were also cancelled.
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. bignij's Avatar
      bignij -
      Can it be classed as State of the Art, if it hasn't got undersoil heating?
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by bignij View Post
      Can it be classed as State of the Art, if it hasn't got undersoil heating?
      I thought the sentence was designed to show up that very contradiction.
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      Does this mean a stadium WITH undersoil heating IS state of the art?

      "Read all about it:

      West Bromwich has state of the art stadium...........so does Milton Keynes!"

    1. L'irlandais's Avatar
      L'irlandais -
      Hi Robert,
      Although both coaches agreed with the decision, neither of them wished to take that decision in his place. Dave Pearson had the unenviable task to confirm everyones fears that it was ludicrous to schedule an International match that late in the evening, given the week-long cold snap here in France. I understand that in RFU land a late decision (less than 3 hours from kick-off) like that is down to both captains.
      Would that work in the RBS Six Nations Championship?

      French winger Vincent Clerc said (as early as Tuesday) the pitch was already frozen when they played Italy last weekend.

      The French Union turned down an offer from French TV to play the match at 15h00 rather than 21h00. FFR insisted that (their) fans had already booked their travel on the basis of a late start, many would have missed an earlier start on Saturday.

      Another issue is that this particular pitch is not available next weekend. So another venue is likely, but where?
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      Quote Originally Posted by L'irlandais View Post
      So another venue is likely, but where?
      Duh! West Bromwich or Milton Keynes
    1. L'irlandais's Avatar
      L'irlandais -
      Hi Phil_E
      Since fairer weather is forecast for the coming week, I don't imagine under pitch heating will be needed next time out. Grenoble has been suggested, as has Toulouse, assuming most ticket holders won't be able to get back that easily. Hopefully it will be rescheduled for next weekend, rather than waiting for Stade de France to be free again.
    1. Simon Thomas's Avatar
      Simon Thomas -
      Quote Originally Posted by L'irlandais View Post
      I understand that in RFU land a late decision (less than 3 hours from kick-off) like that is down to both captains.
      Would that work in the RBS Six Nations Championship?
      Protocols and responsibilities are different at National League and Community rugby levels in the Competition Regs.

      At Premiership / Championship it is different yet again after the David Rose incident, and I believe (but not sure) that 6 nations is slightly different to that also.
    1. L'irlandais's Avatar
      L'irlandais -
      Quote Originally Posted by Simon Thomas View Post
      Protocols and responsibilities are different at National League and Community rugby levels in the Competition Regs.

      At Premiership / Championship it is different yet again after the David Rose incident, and I believe (but not sure) that 6 nations is slightly different to that also.
      Hello Simon,
      Thanks for that. Declan Kidney confirms your opinion.
      We had done our research before we came over - the Six Nations rules are that it's at the sole discretion of the referee. He had to make his call.

      "We walked the part of the pitch that he was concerned with and I understand why he made his call.
      Source : IRFU
    1. Simon Thomas's Avatar
      Simon Thomas -
      I am re-assured that my memory is still sound re what Regs apply to which levels of games !
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      Quote Originally Posted by L'irlandais View Post
      Hi Phil_E
      Since fairer weather is forecast for the coming week, I don't imagine under pitch heating will be needed next time out.
      When's your birthday?
      I'm going to buy you a sense of humour!
    1. L'irlandais's Avatar
      L'irlandais -
      Cheers Phil_E,
      I'm sure.

      Simon T,
      I'd forgotten about that "David Rose to blame for Sale-Wasps judgment" incident.

      The French postponement is really a fiasco, especially since the French Union have not shouldered the blame (in French ) for the whole affair. They were offered an early kick-off and flatly refused, putting Monsieur l'arbitre in front of a "fait accompli".
      Pierre Camou & Jo Maso can be heard clearly blaming the referee. The coach and players were far more diplomatic about it - à la "We respect the referee's decision". Source : Official FFR report.
    1. Dixie's Avatar
      Dixie -
      Quote Originally Posted by L'irlandais View Post
      They were offered an early kick-off and flatly refused, putting Monsieur l'arbitre in front of a "fait accompli".
      Interesting. The Times reports the exact opposite, saying they asked for an early kick-off but were denied it by the organisers.
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      Quote Originally Posted by L'irlandais View Post
      putting Monsieur l'arbitre in front of a "fait accompli".
      There's a French forum for you foreign speaking Jonny's, you know?
    1. GraemeC's Avatar
      GraemeC -
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil E View Post
      There's a French forum for you foreign speaking Jonny's, you know?
      What I don't understand about this whole fiasco is why RBS 6 Nations had no contingency plans in place.

      The decision taken was not a surprise and yet they clearly had not planned for it.
    1. L'irlandais's Avatar
      L'irlandais -
      Hello GraemeC,
      Welcome to the forums.

      The crux of the matter is that while the Six Nations Committee were responsible for scheduling the match with France Television originally, any last minute changes are the entire responsiblity of the Home Union. The FFR either didn't fully appreciate that fact, or they didn't have the courage to take the decision, or they felt they could presurise the referee into going ahead with the match despite the conditions. (Who knows?)

      I read a french article last week ; which quoted a communiqué* from the French Minister of Sport saying
      the Protocol has now been amended, the decision to pospone (for foreseeable reasons ) must be taken no later than 24 hours before kick-off.
      However these new ammendments, don't resolve the issue, since on the day the pitch inspection 90 minutes before kick-off was still favourable.

      *Surprising the number of french words in use in English these days, innit Phil?.
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