x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Former South Africa captain Bob Skinstad adds his voice to the debate over a decision review system in rugby, writes Paul Radley.

South Africa's Bismarck du Plessis, right, is yellow-carded by referee Romain Poite during a Rugby Championship Test match against the New Zealand All Blacks on Saturday. Du Plessis was later dismissed and South Africa lost the match. Michael Bradley / AFP
South Africa's Bismarck du Plessis, right, is yellow-carded by referee Romain Poite during a Rugby Championship Test match against the New Zealand All Blacks on Saturday. Du Plessis was later dismissed and South Africa lost the match. Michael Bradley / AFP

DUBAI // Bob Skinstad, the former South Africa captain, believes international rugby could benefit from a system that allows captains to refer to technology to challenge a referee’s decision.

The former Springbok No 8 was at Eden Park on Saturday when referee Romain Poite sent off Bismarck du Plessis for two yellow card offences – one midway through the first half and another early in the second half.

The dismissal of the South Africa hooker had a telling impact on a game that New Zealand eventually won to give them a potentially decisive lead in the Rugby Championship.

The fall out to the contentious display by Poite has seen the red card rescinded, as well as the sport’s ruling body issue an apology for what it deemed “human error”.

Skinstad thinks the introduction of a decision review system, like in cricket, could help eradicate crucial errors by match officials in future.

“It is something that has been mooted for a while,” said Skinstad, who was speaking before the Dubai Rugby Sevens Long Lunch in Festival City on Thursday.

“A review system like that, essentially I think that is what they are trying to get to anyway with the big screens available to the referees.

“What everyone was aggrieved about was the fact the technology was available and the wrong decision was still made.

“A Monday morning apology doesn’t give you your points back. That is what is disappointing.”

Poite’s first-half decision to yellow card Du Plessis for what he deemed foul play on Dan Carter – despite referring to the television match official (TMO) – has enraged many in South Africa.

Nick Mallet, the former Springboks and Italy coach, also called for the introduction of a review system this week.

“It is a very good idea that each captain should have two calls and could ask the TMO to have a second look at a decision the referee might have missed,” Mallet said on South African radio this week.

“The game is too complicated for one person to handle at the moment.”

Skinstad, who said that “New Zealand have been getting away with murder for ages”, thinks that any delays incurred while getting the correct decision following a review would be time well spent.

“Maybe each team should have a person who is independently looking at footage on a screen and can call a review,” he said.

“There is no problem with that in American football. That crowd on Saturday, if the review had taken 20 minutes each time and they had been there for four hours, they would have been there for four hours.

“It was a spectacle. If it takes 10 minutes longer, then so what?”

pradley@thenational.ae