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Topic ClosedRefereeing - Brendan Venter and Stephen Jones

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Richard Lowther View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jan 2010 at 17:54
Brendan Venter charged
Wednesday January 6, 2010
Issued by Dave Barton
BRENDAN VENTER has been charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game of Rugby Union contrary to Rule 5.12.

The Saracens Director of Rugby has been summoned to appear before an RFU Panel of Disciplinary Officer Jeff Blackett (chair), Jeremy Summers and Peter Budge at the London Bloomsbury Holiday Inn on Tuesday, January 19 (7pm).

The alleged offence is that on January 2, 2010 Brendan Venter, Director of Rugby Saracens RFC, whilst taking part in a BBC interview, criticised or implied criticism by publicly questioning the integrity of the match referee in regard to the reasons for the change of penalty count from the first to second half in the match Saracens v Leicester Tigers by stating that he believed that the referee had been influenced at half time. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jan 2010 at 18:43

 Ok we have not said it on the television, but many of us at Bristol  have been saying this about a certain Referee for years. Stern Smile

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jan 2010 at 22:46

'RFU Panel of Disciplinary Officer Jeff Blackett (chair), Jeremy Summers and Peter Budge'

what a shower of seagull poo,  let the honest, down to earth colonial off, I say Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2010 at 05:36
SA Bees
 
I really disagree with you.
 
The issue for me is an interpretation of a change which didnt need to be made.
 
All we need is for the tackler to release player, the tackled player to relese the ball, all others on their feet with heads above hips and legal rucking! No bridges and no hands when ruck is formed. Sounds simple?
 
However we can never allow criticism of referees in Public. I know the argument re professionals etc but this percolates to all lower levels of Rugby. Just look at the trouble Football gets in keeping Junior refs. It is starting to happen in Rugby and we need to arrest this now!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2010 at 09:33

We should be able to be criticised, maybe in public, but it should be at the correct place& time & through the right channels. Its the only way that I learnt how to referee.

And yes the tackle area is a joke, for all concerned

Edited by womble - 07 Jan 2010 at 09:35
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2010 at 10:21
It's not just a matter of criticism. Venter seemed to infer[if the quotes attributed are accurate] that Rose had been influenced by Leicester at half time. That's pretty serious by any standards.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 08:19
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 08:22
looks like the usual dither
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 09:59
Not really SAB, I think they are consulting lawyers to see if they can deport Ventner back to SA. Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 16:25
as a Venter is also a make of Trailer in SA, possibly in one of those LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 16:39
 Sabeesh, Hope it's a two horse trailer.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 16:54
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2010 at 16:55
Brendan Venter judgment
Wednesday January 20, 2010
Issued by Dave Barton
RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION

DISCIPLINARY HEARING

At: The Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury

On: Tuesday 19 January 2010

JUDGMENT

Coach: Brendan Venter 

Club: Saracens

Match: Saracens v Leicester Tigers

Venue: Watford 

Date of match: 2 January 2010

Panel: HHJ Jeff Blackett (Chairman), Peter Budge, Jeremy Summers

Secretary: Bruce Reece-Russel & Liam McTiernan
Attending: Brendan Venter - Director of Rugby, Saracens.
Owen Eastwood - Counsel for Mr Venter
Stephanie Seymour - Assistant Counsel
Edward Griffiths - CEO Saracens
Gerard McEvilly - Counsel for RFU
Karen Neale - Legal Officer RFU
Ed Morrison - Head of Elite Referees

Witnesses: Live evidence was heard from:
David Rose - referee
J P Doyle - assistant referee
Ed Morrison
Brendan Venter

Decision
Brendan Venter was found guilty of an amended charge in relation to his post match comments on 2 January 2010 after Saracens had lost against Leicester Tigers. He was guilty of conduct which was prejudicial to the interests of the Union in that he, whilst taking part in a BBC interview implied criticism of the match referee by stating that he believed the referee had been influenced at half time without any further explanation so that a listener might conclude the influence had been improper.

The panel directed that Brendan Venter:
• make a public apology to David Rose, the match day referee;
• be suspended from match day coaching for four weeks, that suspension being suspended until 31 December 2010;
• pay costs of £250.

Introduction

1. Venter was charged under RFU Rule 5.12 with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union in criticising or implying criticism of the referee David Rose by publicly questioning his integrity by stating that he believed he had been influenced at half time. He denied the charge.

The RFU Case

2. In a post match interview with the BBC the following conversation took place between the interviewer and Venter:
BBC: Is that a blip or is it a more serious concern for you?
BV: No, no, no its not a real blip - if you look at why we lost we're not that worried about the way we played, you know there was factors...we conceded ten penalties in the second half, we only conceded three in the first half, they conceded nine in the first half and only four in the second half, so something else went wrong here and we do not know what it is. I did not say anything in the half-time talk...

BBC: You believe its an inconsistency of refereeing?

BV: I think so, I think, the referee was influenced at Half-time and that's all I can think.

BBC: You think he might have been influenced by a Leicester...

BV: I don't know.

BBC: Part of the Leicester management?

BV: Something happened. I have no idea something happened, y'know, so it would be wrong of me to make a statement, all I know is something happened at half-time, the game changed - as a matter of fact, Steve Borthwick got a yellow card with twenty minutes to play and that also killed us.

3. The match referee, David Rose, was not aware of this interview until he read about it on BBC Ceefax later. He said that Venter had not raised any issues about he decision making before, during or after the match and he had not been informed at half time by any other match official that Saracens wished to bring any concerns about his refereeing to his attention. In normal course they may do this by filling in a Guinness Premiership "Half Time Referee Communication" card and handing it to the fourth official who should bring it to the attention of the referee. These forms are routinely used to ensure no direct contact between coaches and referees at half time, when something injudicious may be said in the heat of the moment, and enable coaches to raise up to three points of concern with the referee. David Rose said he was not aware of any such communication from either side at half time in this match. He said that during half time the match officials agreed that he needed to be sharper at the breakdown and ensure chasing players were not in front of the kicker. In the second half Leicester became more dominant in the scrum and that led to Saracens
giving away more penalties. He was not improperly influenced by anybody at half time. David Rose said that he found the comments made by Venter to be extremely offensive as they amounted to an attack on his integrity.

4. J P Doyle said that he was the reserve referee for the match. He said that just before half time he received referee communication cards from both Mark McCall (Saracens Assistant Coach) and Paul Burke of Leicester. Both raised generic points about the tackler not rolling away and players being ahead of the kicker before chasing the ball. He thought there was a third point from Leicester about "refereeing both sides" but could not remember exactly what it was. He had since destroyed the cards. He put the cards in his pocket but did not raise any points with the referee during half time discussions because the referee had himself identified those areas of concern and the third Leicester point was not relevant. He confirmed that there had been no improper interference with the referee at half time.

The Defence Case

5. Venter spoke on his on behalf. He said that he has the interests of rugby at heart in all that he does and on this occasion he was making legitimate observations about the state of the game. He observed what he described as a "spectacular" turn around in the penalty count after half time and he wondered whether the referee had been influenced. He never thought or alleged improper influence, but he knows that referees read the communication cards from both coaches, discuss matters with the other officials and maybe influenced by what players have said or by crowd reaction. All of this is normal human behaviour. After the match he gave a press conference and then was asked to say a few words to the BBC. He was asked a question and he gave an honest reply, choosing his words carefully because he did not want to criticise the referee or impugn his integrity. Indeed, later on when discussing consistency he specifically said that he did not think the referees were dishonest. He has discussed, and he continues to discuss, his concerns with both Ed Morrison and Tony Spreadbury and he is determined to work with the referees, and they had accepted that referees are susceptible to influence from external factors when refereeing..

6. He acknowledged that he could have answered the question about influence more precisely and explained exactly what he meant, although it would have required a long answer which may have been cut off by the interviewer. He also accepted that although he did not mean any offence David Rose had been offended and he wanted to apologise "without condition" for having caused that offence. He reiterated that he did not think he had done anything wrong and that he believed he had answered questions honestly but he accepted that a listener could have drawn an adverse conclusion from what he did not say, rather than what he did say.

Decision

7. The Panel accepted that Venter did not intend to attack the integrity of the referee and he specifically said later in the interview that he did not believe that referees operating in the Guinness Premiership were dishonest. However there was an implication in the BBC question that the referee had been improperly influenced at half time and the way in which Venter answered that question was likely to have left the listener with the impression that this was the case. The Panel therefore amended the charge to reflect that finding and found him guilty of "implying criticism of the match referee by stating that he had been influenced at half time".
Mitigation

8. Venter is an honest and straightforward man with a passion for rugby. He started playing as an amateur and made a smooth transition to professionalism. At the same time he has trained and qualified as a medical doctor and has worked as a GP in Cape Town - a profession he may return to at some time in the future. He was capped 23 times for the Springboks, playing in the RWC 1995 and 1999, and has coached extensively at London Irish, Stormers and Saracens since July 2009. He demands high standards from his players and requires them to play within the laws. He understands his own limitations and his passionate nature and works hard to control his emotion by avoiding potentially difficult situations where he might say something he later regrets.

9. Although he did not intend any personal insult against David Rose, nor would he attack his integrity, he acknowledged that David Rose was insulted and he wanted to make an unreserved apology. While he wants to talk about current issues affecting rugby he would never criticise the integrity of individuals.

Sanction

10. We accept that Venter is a man of integrity who is passionate about rugby, who wants to improve areas which he considers in need of improvement, and speaks his mind. He also is aware that his passion could get him into trouble and we advised him to be careful in future about the way he espouses his theories in public. This is not a case where a Director of Rugby explicitly criticised the referee (apart from suggesting there is too much inconsistency in refereeing) but a case where he left a question half answered so that others might draw an adverse conclusion. We therefore determine that Venter should publicly clarify that he does not impugn David Rose's integrity by issuing an apology, and that any sanction should be such as to ensure that he is careful about what he says in the future.

11. In those circumstances the panel directed that Brendan Venter:

• make a public apology to David Rose, the match day referee, that apology being published at the same time as this judgment; and
• be suspended from match day coaching for four weeks, that suspension being suspended until 31 December 2010.

12. This means that Mr Venter may continue to coach but if he commits any further rugby offences that suspension shall be activated in addition to any other sanction for the subsequent offence. If activated the terms of the suspension are that Mr Venter must have:

• No direct or indirect contact with his team on match days;
• No direct or indirect contact with any match official on match days;

Costs
13. Standard costs of £250.00 are awarded.

Right of Appeal
14. The Player is reminded of his right of appeal against this decision.

Comments
15. The Panel wish to express concern about the current system in the Guinness Premiership of allowing written communication between coaches and the referee at half time. This system does allow coaches to influence the referee and there is potential for that influence to be improper. We understand that this was established to diffuse any potential conflicts which might occur if there were direct contact. However, we believe that the system should either prevent any direct or indirect contact or, if there is to be written contact, be more formal and transparent. Ed Morrison has agreed to review this process.

16.This decision was communicated to Brendan Venter at the hearing, but its publication has been delayed until 4pm on 20 January 2010 so that he can prepare a written apology which will be published at the same time.

17.Robust debate about all aspects of the Game is healthy and the press has an important part to play in that debate. Directors of Rugby, and other representative should give live interviews to the media and must be free to express general concerns about the Game. However, when doing so they must be careful about what they say so that they do not offend the RFU's Core Values which highlight the importance of teamwork and respect. Where specific concerns arise which might include criticism of individuals, they should be dealt with in private through the recognised channels (that have been agreed by the Premiership Clubs).

Signed: Jeff Blackett 

Date: January 20, 2010

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2010 at 14:04
If I suggest that the RFU have ducked the issue and hid behind semantics in the hope that the whole affair will go away and be quickly forgotten, will I be attacked for being anti South African or a snob?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2010 at 19:37
don't care either way, if the cap fits  Big smile

Edited by SABees - 21 Jan 2010 at 19:37
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2010 at 20:53
Originally posted by cheshire exile cheshire exile wrote:

If I suggest that the RFU have ducked the issue and hid behind semantics in the hope that the whole affair will go away and be quickly forgotten, will I be attacked for being anti South African or a snob?
 
Neither CE, I agree with you entirely. 
 
It looks like the Venter's lawyers did enough to convince the RFU that his comments had been mis-interpreted and a compromise was agreed - the RFU still got their guilty verdict, but Venter receives no  'real' punishment.  It will be interesting to see what happens if/when a simipippins apple case comes up in future. 
 
Who'd want to be a ref?!
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2010 at 00:36
Yes, who would want to be a ref?

I'm inexperienced as a ref and I'm having second thoughts.

It's getting very close to football. Every manager in football blames the ref for every loss.
In rugby it's all the "informed" criticism you get from smart-Thimbleberry coaches. They NEVER made a mistake in their lives so how dare you miss an offside against them.

When I hear the old farts in the stands pontificating on referring calls it doesn't make me laugh it makes me seeth.

I honestly think this is getting away from us and we're on the slope down.

Spoke to a football referee and asked him why they didn't send people off for calling them bananaing kiwifruits.
He seemed quite suprised by the question "Oh you expect that" he said.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2010 at 08:09
Spectators and players would be far more understanding if a) referees would apologise for their mistakes - players/coaches make mistakes and the culture they are in means they offer apology to their team(mates); the refereeing culture is 'always right, never make mistakes' therefore they can never improve and b) explain decisions to the media.

Both of these points will improve communication and make them more accountable bringing the sport into the 20th century and not being stuck in 1876
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2010 at 09:43
Interesting point Mersey - and I'm sure that does happen (both ways) outside of the media space.
 
I seem to remember a few apologies that have been reported, but it's very easy for DoRs to shout at the media about refs straight after a game. It's only on reviewing the tapes that these "mistakes" appear to be 100% accurate, or at least open to objective discussion, but by then it's too late for DoRs to retract.  Sure the majority of refs will have apologised for mistakes when they have been made. Whether they get into the media is an entirely different story!
 
One of the issues here is that there is so much in rugby that is open to debate. Everyone needs to remember that there are significant grey areas in the game and the laws, and each decision can be interpretted differently depending on what your focus is on each occasion. There is also a heck of a lot going on all the time and at some stage spectators need to appreciate that with one set of eyes things will be missed or interpretted differently. 
 
Isn't that  one of the things we all love about the game?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2010 at 14:06
Just seen this, which in my book makes a ruddy nonsense of Venters £250 fine

22 January 2010

  • Fine replaces points deduction
  • Huntingdon & District punished for registration breaches

A Rugby Football Union Competitions Appeal panel has fined Midlands East Two (South) club Huntingdon & District a total of £2,000 for  failing to follow the correct procedure when registering two players who joined them from St Neots.


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