What has become apparent (well, what has been rammed home really) in the past 10 days is that rugby has allowed itself to become a sport where the refereeing panel are no longer just there to facilitate the game and allow it to happen, but have become nearly the most important people on the pitch (or box). Rugby is no longer about 30 players, it is about 30 players, and 4 officials whose remit has become sanctioning every single act on the field to its fullest extent.
The term rugby accident no longer has any meaning. Angus Ta'avao got his face caved in and got a red card. LF was in the air and got a yellow. In the England v Australia game two attempted intercepts got two players binned. Papali'i got penalised for a perfect cleanout because the touchie thought something else happened and had to get on the pitch.
Rugby is obsessed with getting people off the pitch. In a game defined by the fact it is a constant contest, players are sent from the field for contesting. Cards are flying thick and fast. AWJ got carded for absolutely nothing but suspicion on the weekend. How is that in any way acceptable?
And i absolutely do not blame the referees even one bit. This comes down to the lawmakers, their guidelines, and the instructions given to their referees. This is the game World Rugby want. Every controversial incident is met with a new, far stricter than required guideline in case it happens again. And that guidelines normally involves another player off the pitch. Professional Rugby is, above all else, a form of entertainment, and yet here we have a governing body obsessed with actively degrading their product, to appease who?
And yet, for some, they do not go far enough. Look at the chat in rugby media after every test. "this is a disgrace, there should have been more cards!! that card wasn't harsh enough, it should have been red!" every single fucking week. Pre-game the focus is on the ref, and what they should look at. Post-game the focus is on the ref, and what they misses, and who else should have been sent from the field.
I have heard more about Jaco in the press than the fucking players over the past couple of days. In what world is that the best outcome?
Long time fans are becoming more and more disillusioned. Casual fans are turning it off. And the response will probably e another crack down and more cards. Awesome.