European club rugby’s head of match officials has backed the introduction of NFL-style in-stadium explanations of refereeing decisions.
EPCR Head of Match Officials Tony Spreadbury was speaking yesterday during a media briefing ahead of this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome. Lyon and Toulon play in tomorrow night’s Challenge Cup decider before Leinster bid for a fifth European title against Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle.
Spreadbury gave the match officials’ perspective on the topic of Safety, Speed and Space in the game after which he was asked whether there should be the same access to supporters attending matches as television viewers are given when mic’d up referees and Television Match Officials review decisions.
The former Test referee from England said he had taken charge of a testimonial match in which his decision-making process was relayed via the public address system to supporters inside the ground and Spreadbury added: “It’s something which I’m in favour of. When (referees) Matthew Carley and Luke Pearce went down to Australia (for the Rugby Championship) they open it up to the crowd to hear comments between the TMO and the referee.
“I do appreciate that people at home can hear everything but the poor guys and lasses in the stadium can’t hear anything. It’s the quality of the stadium and the PA system that needs to be addressed but also Matthew said he felt a bit disorientated hearing it echoing around.
“But it’s a good question. We need to look at it, we need to do better to make sure those fans there know they are being part of the process or felt part of it but I don’t know what the answer is because of the quality of the PA systems.” Meanwhile, Harlequins and England loosehead prop Joe Marler wants rugby to make it easier for players to ‘come out’.
“There is no way everyone in professional elite rugby is heterosexual. No way,” he told The Mirror. “You can’t tell me that. The issue is, ‘why don’t they feel comfortable?’ “We’ve said all the right things about equality and sexuality in sport,” he said. “But it’s one thing saying them out loud and in the press, another actually living by those values in the corridors, in the changing rooms, with your team-mates, to make people feel comfortable.
“That is the thing that needs to keep being worked on. Head ofSo it’s not just words, it’s not just fluff.
“It’s about empowering your team mates or the people in rugby who do feel like they want to come out but don’t feel they can because they’re worried about the stick they’ll get or it being used against them.
“It’s about the day to day of going ‘well mate, you be whoever you want to be and I will completely respect and support that’.
“I hope we’re moving in the right direction and I hope to see someone that is currently playing set that example.”