‘No-nonsense’ referee praised for response to Bongi Mbonambi’s ‘disrespect’ following disallowed try

Colin Newboult
Aimee Barrett-Theron unimpressed by Bongi Mbonambi after Sharks try disallowed.

Aimee Barrett-Theron unimpressed by Bongi Mbonambi after Sharks try disallowed.

Referee Aimee Barrett-Theron has been praised for the way she dealt with Bongi Mbonambi during Saturday’s Lions v Sharks United Rugby Championship clash.

The Durban outfit, who have struggled this season, were 19-10 in arrears just shy of the break when the visitors thought they had scored a try to reduce the deficit.

It was ruled out, however, much to the displeasure of Mbonambi, who sought answers from the referee.

De-escalating the situation

The Springboks hooker was evidently unhappy about the call and, as a result, the situation could have escalated, but Barrett-Theron did brilliantly to calm the situation down, while also demanding respect from the 33-year-old.

She started by asking the Sharks skipper: “Bongi, can you walk with me please, this way?” before going on to say, “Bongi may I speak please? Listen, I fully respect you and who you are, and I am well aware that all of your players have probably played more games than I have refereed in the URC.

“But we are on the same field so if you could show me the same respect that I show you, that would be very much appreciated.”

That appeared to do the job as Mbonambi then seemingly changed tact and asked Barrett-Theron: “They are just looking to me for answers, so was it foul play?” with Barrett-Theron responding, “Yes, that was foul play.”

The same referee went viral recently for the way she dealt with the England and Wales players during an U20 match.

Barrett-Theron was praised after a scuffle broke out between both sets of players early in the contest.

“You know what, boys, I’m not mad; I’m just really disappointed,” she said during the February clash.

“Because you both gave me buy-ins before the game in the changing room that you would be able to control your players.

“So, did you lie to me? Or is it something you are going to fix from now?”

More praise

Saturday’s match was obviously more high profile and she once again received widespread acclaim for the way she handled the Boks forward.

“Haven’t watched Aimee Barrett-Theron referee much but enjoying her no-nonsense approach here. Dealt well with a fairly petulant Bongi after that try was ruled out,” Hugo Gordon wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Mbonambi also came in for plenty of criticism, with journalist Dan Retief not impressed by how he spoke to the referee.

“Wonder whether SA Rugby will call him to book for his disrespectful attitude towards referee Aimee Barrett-Theron, whom I felt did an excellent job,” Retief wrote.

“Bongi was rude, at best, misogynistic at worst. Not a good look for a Springbok.”

Another person added: “Bongi has been a doos today. Disrespectful towards Aimee Barrett-Theron on more than one occasion. Poor form by the captain and Springbok.”

READ MORE: ‘I’m not mad, just really disappointed’ – South African rugby referee lays down the law during England v Wales