The recent disrespectful comments directed to referees by Liam Williams and Kyle Sinckler must not be allowed to become the norm, according to Simon Zebo.
Both Williams and Sinckler have been punished for their indiscretion towards officials, but there are signs that mouthing off to referees is becoming more commonplace in rugby.
England international Sinckler did make a public apology to referee and former Harlequins team mate Karl Dickson, and both him and Wales star Williams will miss their country’s opening Six Nations matches.
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‘It’s not a good look for rugby’
Former Ireland international Simon Zebo believes there is no place in rugby for disrespect towards referees, while noting that both guilty parties are decent people.
“I just don’t think there is any real need for it. I’m sure, as you said, he [Sinckler] probably knows him [Dickson] real well and stuff but if there is anything so serious or so bad, there are so many cameras nowadays it is going to come up and it is not going to be so blatant that he will miss it.
“There is a level of respect there that you need to have. These are things you are taught from a young age. You are taught respect and discipline.
“These are things that rugby ingrains in you. The only thing that differs the older you get is the ego gets a little bit bigger so you feel like, ‘Oh, I can say these things’. I wouldn’t be for that at all.
“I’m sure it was a split second where he [Sinckler] just lost control and it’s different when you are in heat of the battle, but it’s not a good look for rugby. Same with Liam Williams the other day.
“What he said when he was leaving the pitch, it’s a red card, there is no two ways about it the way he went into the ruck.
“He is another really nice guy. Really like him as a player as well. Couldn’t say a bad word about him but it’s just not a good look for the game.
“Hopefully, they will learn their lesson and they change it, but those early values you get ingrained in you from a kid playing rugby, respect, discipline, all these things. Everybody makes mistakes but this is something you can’t let go any further,” Zebo told the RugbyPass Offload podcast.
Sinckler and Williams weren’t the only players to treat a referee with a little less respect than they should have last weekend, as Nevers player Josaia Raisuqe picked up referee Laurent Millotte while celebrating his side’s win.