Conrad Smith is bent in two by Rocky Elsom
Opinion by Greg Robertson
Consistency. That’s what the fans, players and I’m sure the IRB’s top dog referee controller wants from his referees.
But consistency is not what anyone is getting.
The Welsh were fuming at the sending off of their captain Sam Warburton in the semifinal clash against France – a moment in time that in my mind cost Wales the match and a place in the final.
Roll the camera on one day from that point to the other semi and you’ll find Australian Rocky Elsom bend All Blacks centre Conrad Smith in two – intentionally.
But Elsom’s antics have hardly been mentioned. It was missed by all three referees and it seems the judicial system didn’t even feel it worthwhile to bring Elsom in front of them to face after-match charges.
So on one hand you have a Wales captain who picked up a player, realised he was in the wrong and dropped any maliciousness (and the player). And on the other hand you have someone who absolutely 100% man-handles a player in such a way that a very serious injury could have occurred but gets away with it Scot-free? I'm not actually saying there was an actual intention to break Smith's neck, but there was some maliciousness on his mind, for sure.
Does that seem fair to you? And when it comes to refereeing, we all know what happened following the turmoil with ref Nigel Owens and the Samoans.
Then we have the All Blacks taking on the French at Eden Park this Sunday in the final. The French, a team most Kiwis have packed their pants over since the whole Wayne Barnes saga. That was a match where consistency was lacking by the referee and both teams.
Pure and simple, Elsom should not be in the third and fourth play-off match – and he isn’t, but not through any imposed regulation but by missing selection.
Pure and simple, I pray this weekend we have a result that Kiwis do not feel the need to point fingers following a referee-induced result.
I also pray for consistency. Is that too much to ask?
Watch the video for the Elsom tackle on Smith.