All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on Thursday called for rugby union to “rip up the rule book” and simplify its laws after a string of officiating blunders in the Rugby Championship.
Hansen was careful not to criticise referees themselves, but said the complexity of the rules they had to enforce made their job difficult.
“If I was allowed to do one thing in the game I’d rip the rule book up and I’d write another one and just put in the rules that are necessary,” he told reporters ahead of New Zealand’s test against South Africa in Wellington this weekend.
“We’ve got so many. If you read the rule book there’s clause 5 (a) 2 (c). You read it and it doesn’t even sound like English. The people that suffer the most are the people in the middle.”
Argentina had a legitimate try disallowed at a crucial moment in their 28-9 loss to New Zealand last week and South Africa suffered an agonising 24-23 defeat in Australia after winger Bryan Habana was sin-binned for a tackle controversially deemed to be high.
Springbok fans were furious last year when Bismarck du Plessis was sent off after receiving two yellow cards during South Africa’s 29-15 loss to the All Blacks, with the International Rugby Board later admitting the first card for a tackle on Dan Carter was a mistake.
Hansen said the referees’ task was made harder because rules could be interpreted differently between their home nation, the northern/southern hemispheres and the IRB.
“If they’ve got three different ideas you’ve got three different messages coming at you and I think that’s difficult,” he said.
Hansen suggested the IRB take responsibility for hiring a panel of top referees and touch judges, who could then officiate at all test matches.
“I’d like them to employ the top 10 refs and get them to do all the games, that way they’d become better and more consistent,” he said.
“Give them two touch judges for the year and say ‘that’s your team, we’ll judge you as a team’.”