Blow gently on the whistle Mr Joubert
I’m in New Zealand with my son this week – Auckland to be precise – counting down to the Rugby World Cup Final at Eden Park on Saturday. Very, very exciting to be here after a gap of *gulp* nearly 40 years, even if we’re not going to get the final we were after.
As we took off we had our fingers crossed for Wales battling Australia; watching Warren Gatland’s boys grow in confidence and nearly beating the Boks in their first game made me come over all Welsh. My son on the other hand is going to University of Queensland to read sports management next February and already thinks he’s an Aussie.
At least we now get to see the All Blacks perform the Haka in a World Cup final, but if they ‘choke’ – as they have in previous World Cups – this beautiful country will go into mourning once more.
Of course, they could suffer the same fate as the Welsh: the decision about their destiny ripped out of their hands by over-zealous refereeing. But with Craig Joubert replacing Alain Rolland for the final, hopefully the latter’s dismissal of Sam Warburton will remain the tournament’s most controversial refereeing decision.
Even before last Saturday’s semi-final, I was thinking that, as we get towards the ‘business end’ of the competition, the officials really start to earn their money. As demonstrated by the whistle-happy ‘Monsieur’ Rolland, the best refs don’t take centre stage and draw attention to themselves by constantly blowing up.
Much like a good manager who gives people the space to do their job, referees need to let players play. That’s what they are on the pitch for.
Joubert, who in my opinion is the best whistler in world rugby is unobtrusive, calm and decisive. He blew about 14 times in the Ireland/Wales quarter final and that’s pure class.
The parallels between rugby and business don’t stop with referees.
If the England rugby team had been a company, its employees would be looking for new jobs right now. No structure, no spirit, no leadership, no game plan. And no manners off the field.
Maybe the team and its management should be made to take that formula into a commercial marketplace and see how they get on? In the meantime, if they want an advisor I’m happy to help out.