Agustin Pichot didn’t hold back in his criticism of SANZAAR.
Last weekend rugby fans were left aghast when Owen Franks avoided any form of sanction for allegedly eye gouging Kane Douglas during the All Blacks win over Australia in the Rugby Championship.
The incident drew reaction and comment from around the world, with many fans even accusing match officials of consistently showing favouritism toward New Zealand. However, as the citing commissioner deemed the incident not to have reached the red card threshold, Franks avoided even a token investigation.
Nevertheless, this has not stopped World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot labelling SANZAAR’s failure to sanction Franks as embarrassing.
In an interview with Kiwi news site Stuff, Pichot revealed that he received a call from Argentinian lock Mariano Galarza on Wednesday, who was suspended for nine weeks after being found guilty of eye-gouging All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick during their opening World Cup match.
The suspension rightly ended Galarza’s tournament, but SANZAAR’s failure to consistently apply the game’s laws angered the second row forward. As a result, Pichot was left embarrassed when Galarza questioned him on the subject.
I cannot explain to Galarza who was suspended for an offence on an All Black when he touched his face and the same case or worse last weekend doesn’t even get cited. It’s wrong.
How do I explain to Galarza when he phoned me that he was left out of the World Cup from the start to the finish and another player in the same situation one year later doesn’t even get cited.
What do I tell him as an administrator of the game? I am completely embarrassed. He dreamed of playing in a World Cup and I can now not tell him that it was fair.
What is fair? Not citing Franks, or giving a punishment to Galarza? Where do I draw a line?
We are the ones that administrate the game and we need consistency. I’m not criticising the citing officer. I’m not criticising the player. I’m criticising the consistency.
It’s wrong for the players because at the end of the day it’s a question of integrity and player welfare.
The same with consistency of refereeing. We can get some calls wrong or right we are human beings and we always have to respect the referee, but we have to be consistent worldwide.
In order to foster the consistent application of rugby’s laws, Pichot has suggested establishing a centralised base for referees and judicial matters, that would deal with any such incidents in the future.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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