Tue, Jan 05, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Tony Hanks, Brendan Venter rail at refs

AFP , LONDON

Wasps coach Tony Hanks added his voice to the criticism of refereeing standards in the English Premiership after his side lost 12-6 at home to Newcastle on Sunday.

Saracens chief Brendan Venter accused officials on Saturday of killing top-level club rugby in England as an entertaining spectacle.

The South African now faces the prospect of disciplinary action after the Rugby Football Union said on Sunday they would be holding an inquiry to see if Venter had a case to answer for bringing the game into disrepute.

But he received a measure of support from Hanks after an Adams Park match where all the points came from penalty goals — Newcastle’s Jimmy Gopperth landing four to one apiece from Wasps’ Dave Walder and Mark van Gisbergen as the victorious visitors moved up into sixth in the table.

“Both teams tried to play some rugby and that’s where I’m most frustrated,” Hanks said.

“Week-in, week-out the breakdown seems to be different. We need to get clear interpretation in terms of who’s allowed to play the ball,” Hanks said. “We need that to encourage teams to play rugby. At the moment what incentive is there to play rugby? We have to deal with what we’ve been dealt with in terms of the law, but the contest at the breakdown is not even.”

The New Zealander added: “My big thing is the tackler — when he’s allowed to play the ball again. Has he released? It’s in the tackler’s favor at the moment.”

Venter was left fuming after Premiership leaders Saracens 22-15 loss away to Leicester on Saturday.

“There is a problem and that is the game is determined by referees and not by teams,” the former Springbok said. “Everybody wants to know why the game is dying. Maybe that is why the game is dying.”

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