Lawrence to ref in SA
Controversial New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence will undergo a “rehabilitation” and reports that he will not referee in South Africa this year are simply not true.
Sanzar Referees boss Lyndon Bray says there is “absolutely no truth” in reports that Lawrence will not referee in South Africa this year as a counter to the backlash from his poor refereeing performance in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal where the Springboks lost against the Wallabies.
Lawrence has been the subject of much anger for his handling of the game, failing to penalise Australian indiscretions at the breakdown and allowing Wallaby flank the freedom of the park in the crucial World Cup game.
While Lawrence himself has said he fears for his safety in South Africa after receiving threats, Bray said there was “absolutely no policy” by Sanzar that Lawrence shouldn’t ref in South Africa this year.
However, he did say that Lawrence would be rehabilitated and given the time and support he needs to get back to the top, as the fallout from the game certainly had an effect on him.
Lawrence wouldn’t therefore be given any big Super Rugby games until he gets his confidence back, and only then will he referee big games, whether they are in South Africa or not.
“It isn’t true that he (Bryce) won’t go to South Africa,” Bray told SuperSport.com
“That may have been an interpretation but it certainly isn’t a policy and to be honest, it isn’t about whether Bryce goes to South Africa or not. It is about whether he gets back up to where he needs to be for Super Rugby.”
Bray said for this reason Lawrence would not ref the opening round Blues v Crusaders clash, even though he was named New Zealand’s referee of the year last year, an award that reignited the anger in South Africa.
“He won’t do Blues-Crusaders on day one and that is deliberate,” Bray explained, “ At the moment Bryce is going to have to build himself back up to the point where we and teams have confidence in him performing in a big match situation.
“That is a fair reflection of where he is at and he will have to perform well in the early rounds to be in contention for whatever big games there are in the competition, whether they are in South Africa or not.”
HONEST ABOUT PERFORMANCE
Bray said Lawrence had been very “honest” in his assessment of his own performance on the day, and he respected him for that. What was important now for Sanzar is that Lawrence gets over the situation and becomes a top referee again.
“If you put it into context he has been incredibly honest about the game, and when he came off the field he probably had a different view of his performance than when he sat back in the cold light of day. We’ve all been prone to that situation and the middle of the battle you don’t recognise that things aren’t going that well,” Bray said.
“It was one of those days where he didn’t quite connect with the impact his decisions were having on the tackle area and to his credit he has been honest about it. What is considerable now is how he gets over it – that is what is really important and we will use the first part of Super Rugby to try and restore his own confidence, it is no different than you would do with any rugby player.
“He has got to get his confidence back and he has to put in some good performances and that is his challenge right now. We have been clear with him and he knows it is very important that his ongoing involvement in Super Rugby involves the major challenge of getting back up there and staying true to his performance on the field.”
South African fans might not be keen to see Lawrence again, but a dearth of top-class referees means that he will be seen again reffing SA teams in the near future, with Sanzar’s backing.