NEW ZEALAND referee Bryce Lawrence will not officiate in South Africa again if he receives personal threats from disgruntled Springboks fans.
He also admits that he made mistakes during the Boks’ 11-9 Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to Australia last month.
Lawrence copped a barrage of criticism from South African supporters, players and media following his performance with the whistle during that game.
So much so, in fact, that a Facebook page has been set up for disgruntled fans to abuse Lawrence.
The man himself is aware he could encounter problems if he is called upon to control a Super Rugby game or test match in South Africa next year.
“I'm not totally concerned. I know a lot of other people like the New Zealand Rugby Union and SANZAR do have some serious concerns. In all honesty I’m not going to go over there if there’s any personal threat or I have concerns about my safety because in the end it's a job, I know that, and also it's just a sport so I'm not going to put myself at risk,” he told Radiosport.
“I refereed the final last year, I've refereed a lot of playoff games so that level is something I'm more than capable of refereeing. I'll referee South African teams in Super Rugby, it may be in Australia or New Zealand that I referee them and I'm sure the criticism will resurface every time I do referee them.”
He admits he did not have a good performance during the South Africa v Australia RWC match and is focusing on trying to reduce the number of technical errors he makes.
“I was disappointed with some aspects in my own performance that day after referring four really pretty strong games in pool play. I'm not blaming anyone for the quarter-final referring display apart from myself. I didn't referee as well as I could.
“I was pretty relaxed going into that game, and Australia-South Africa I have refereed numerous times in the last few years at Tri Nations level so the game didn't scare me or concern me. I just think I went away from what I'm best at. I'm best when I'm pretty decisive and reasonably technical and tactical – and I just went too much down the tactical side of things where I was really trying to minimise making technical errors.
“I got criticised heavily and some of that I accept because I know I could have done better.”
Lawrence still thinks about his performance in that match and has read some of the criticism that has been written about him since.
“My quarter-final performance created a lot of negative reaction in South Africa, pretty hostile, very personal, very harsh. Also on the flipside of that I got a lot of really strong positive support from rugby people in New Zealand and around the world who probably know me a little bit more than the people in South Africa and were feeling for me during that time.
“It hasn't been the greatest four or six weeks of my life...in all honesty there isn't a day goes by even now that I don't think about what I could have done better and how it's affecting me and what it means for me going forward. It's still very fresh and probably pretty raw really.
“I was possibly silly enough a couple of months before the World Cup to get convinced by some of our younger referees to join Facebook because it's a really good way to communicate with each of us. So some of those comments that were going onto that Facebook page were also coming onto my Facebook, I don't understand how but I don't really understand Facebook, so I was getting a lot of pretty nasty personal comments that were just appearing on my page. I'd be lying to say I wasn't aware of it but what I saw gave me a pretty clear view of what people were feeling.”« Back to Archives
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