Rugby

ALAIN ROLLAND: The officials rose to the occasion for the second Lions Test in Cape Town

ALAIN ROLLAND: The officials rose to the occasion for the second Test in Cape Town – referee Ben O’Keeffe was decisive and clearly calling the shots

  • South African TMO Marius Jonker was under big pressure coming into the game 
  • But O’Keeffe led the conversations and made Jonker’s job much easier for him 
  • The refereeing team will need to be as strong again in the final Test next week 


Marius Jonker was always going to be under huge pressure going into this game. He is a South African as TMO in a game in South Africa involving South Africa. 

Anything he does, whatever decision he makes, people will accuse him of having an ulterior motive. It’s lose-lose.

He is a top professional and you can never question his character and integrity. He is not afraid to step up and make the big decisions. Ben O’Keeffe helped take that pressure off him with how decisive he was as referee on the field. 

The refereeing team were always going to be under huge pressure in the second Test match

The refereeing team were always going to be under huge pressure in the second Test match

Referee Ben O'Keeffe was decisive and communicated very well in Cape Town on Saturday

Referee Ben O’Keeffe was decisive and communicated very well in Cape Town on Saturday

We expect the referee to be the leader and you could see he was the one making the decisions. He led the conversations and his clear explanation of what he had seen made Marius’s job simpler.

I thought the officials handled the occasion excellently. I have been in a similar situation when you know there is going to be a backlash from the week before. You have to prepare for everything; the scuffles, the fights, the foul play.

What Ben did so well was he quickly put the pressure back on the players. Some referees struggle with this. 

What Ben did so well in Cape Town was he quickly put the pressure back on the players

What Ben did so well in Cape Town was he quickly put the pressure back on the players

Ben put it straight back on to the captains in the first few minutes: this is the situation, any more nonsense and I will take action. Over to you.

The third Test will be another step up in intensity. They need to be prepared for that. 

When it comes down to the wire, and the pressure is on, someone could do something silly. The officials must be prepared to be strong just as they were on Saturday.


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