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Refs wary of NZ's "negative tactics"

21st August 2014 13:51

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Referee Jonathan Kaplan C shows Sam Whitelock of New Zealand R yellow card

Not pulling punches: Jonathan Kaplan

Former Test referee Jonathan Kaplan has waded into the debate around the All Blacks' recent history of receiving yellow cards.

The most experienced official in the history of Test rugby has suggested that international referees have grown wary of New Zealand using "marginal tactics" to avoid conceding tries when under pressure.

The South African has come out in defence of his heavily-criticised countryman Jaco Peyper, who handed out two yellow cards to Steve Hansen's team during last weekend's Bledisloe Cup draw with the Wallabies in Sydney.

The All Blacks have now copped seven yellow cards in their last ten Tests.

"New Zealand were again guilty of marginal tactics under pressure ... are the referees finally beginning to understand what needs to be done to eliminate this constant in their game when they come under pressure in their 22m area?" Kaplan wrote in his latest column on his website RateTheRef.

"Jaco Peyper made mistakes in this game no doubt, but needs credit for dishing out the cards when they were deserved. It engenders a whole lot of trust when the referee is prepared well, and is prepared to act."

Kaplan's review of Peyper's performance was mixed, however, as he questioned the yellow card shown to fly-half Beauden Barrett.

"I'm not sure about some of Peyps' general accuracy in this fixture as there appeared to be some questionable calls at the breakdown and certainly Barrett was very unlucky to be given his marching orders as it appeared that the ball was not placed at the tackle, but left the hands of the ball carrier and so it could well have been a case of general play and hence a play on situation," noted Kaplan.

"It was a tough call to make as the outcome depends on slow motion adjudication, and perhaps the referee just had enough of what he rightly or wrongly considered to be negative tactics."

Frenchman Romain Poite will referee this weekend's Bledisloe Cup rematch at Eden Park, where Peyper will be one of the assistants, alongside fellow South African Stuart Berry. Another South African, Shaun Veldsman, will be the television match official.

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