VIDEO: Please protect the jackler
SUPER RUGBY UNLOCKED SPOTLIGHT: South Africa should take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book in how they referee the breakdown.
Stormers coach John Dobson expressed concern over the lack of protection for the ‘jackler’ – the players contesting for turnover ball at the breakdown.
Two horrific injuries in the Stormers’ come-from-behind (42-37) win over the Pumas in Nelspruit last Friday has renewed the debate around how the breakdown is being refereed.
World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi left the field in the 26th minute, after being caught awkwardly in a clean-out at a ruck.
Dobson confirmed on Monday that Kolisi has suffered a Grade One hamstring strain and will be sidelined for two to three weeks.
Two minutes later Pumas flyhalf Eddie Fouche suffered an even more frightful injury in a similar clean-out at the breakdown – his bloodcurdling cries of pain accentuating the gruesome nature of his dislocated hip.
Dobson admitted there is uncertainty as to what is allowed and not allowed at the breakdown.
“I thought that was the whole object of the refereeing focus on the breakdown – to protect the jackler,” the Stormers coach said of the risks players contesting for turnover ball are exposed to.
He said the question has to be asked: ‘Is it being refereed consistently?’
“I don’t mean inconsistent as in blowing it one way for one team and refereeing it a different way for another team,” Dobson said, adding: “I mean the breakdown across various games – from one game to the next.”
He admitted that – in defence of referees – match officials have also been off for six months during the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.
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“The idea is to avoid the injuries that happened to [Pumas flyhalf] Eddie Fouche.
“Whether the jackler is getting that protection, I am not so sure.
“I thought there was more protection at the start of Super Rugby Aotearoa [New Zealand’s domestic franchise competition], compared to what we are getting in our competition now,” he said of Super Rugby Unlocked.
“You want to encourage guys to go for the steal, [and] I think there could be more protection for the jackler.”
He used the injuries of Kolisi and Fouche as good examples of a player being injured while being cleaned out.
“It is cause for some introspection,” Dobson said, adding that side entries are a problem.
“Somewhere down the line, you will have to look at arriving with an outstretched arm at the ruck, just to stop the blind shoulders.”
He also pointed to the inconsistency around players going off their feet at rucks.
“If you are required, like in the old days, to stay on your feet, the body height comes up – that will be quite a bit safer,” he said, reiterating his concern over how the breakdown is being policed.