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VIDEO: Bok veteran schooled by 'rookie' ref

Two-time World Cup-winning veteran Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi was schooled in the ethics of the game when Aimee Barrett-Theron poured cold water over his ‘heated’ questions in the Sharks’ 10-40 United Rugby Championship loss to the Lions at Ellis Park at the weekend.


Barrett-Theron, a relative newcomer to the United Rugby Championship stage, is only the third female referee to appear in the European competition.

The former women’s fifteen-a-side and Sevens representative, has played in two Rugby World Cups, and after hanging up her boots, took up the whistle in 2014.

She was drafted onto the URC panel a couple of seasons ago, but has not had too many high-profile games.

It got heated in Johannesburg at the weekend, especially towards the end of the first half – with the Sharks trailing 10-19.

The visitors – who are bottom of the standings and have won just one game this year – thought they had narrowed the gap when flyhalf Siya Masuku sent fullback Aphelele Fassi over for a try.

However, TMO Ben Crouse intervened and pointed out an earlier infringement – Sharks prop Ntuthuko Mchunu charging into a breakdown with a ‘tucked arm and leading shoulder’.


Barrett-Theron, on the advice of Crouse, ruled out the try.

This irked Mbonambi, a 68-Test veteran who has also captained the Springboks, who already had some ‘disrespectful exchanges with the match official.

Barrett-Theron then called over the 33-year-old Bok hooker – after informing Lions captain Marius Louw of her decision – and in a very calm way poured cold water on the Shark’s captain’s hot-headed arguments.

* (Article continues below the video …)

“Bongi, can you walk with me please, this way?” Barrett-Theron said, gesturing to Louw to step away from the discussion.


Mbonambi continued his discourteous attempt to win the match official over.

“Bongi, may I speak please?” she politely asked

“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.”

Mbonambi tried one more time, asking Barrett-Theron: “They [my teammates] are just looking to me for answers, so was it foul play?”

Barrett-Theron responded: “Yes, that was foul play, with a tucked arm.”

Mbonambi tried one more time: “And our one [an earlier Lions clear out] wasn’t foul play?”

Barrett-Theron: “No.”

The Sharks continued to unravel and Mbonambi was yellow carded for a cynical foul in the 51st minute – with the Lions scoring three converted tries in the last half-an-hour to rout the Sharks.

The Durban-based franchise remains rooted to the bottom of the standings.



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