Broadcaster Stan have removed a TV skit filmed at the Australian Open in which Wallabies players were asked to target a moving digital image of rugby referee Mathieu Raynal with tennis balls.
Raynal broke Australian hearts with a late call on Wallabies flyhalf Foley in last year’s 39-37 Rugby Championship loss in Melbourne.
Raynal penalised Foley for holding up the game as the five-eighth shaped to kick the ball to touch with less than two minutes left on the clock and Wallabies leading. In the ensuing play, the All Blacks found their man in Barrett, who touched down in the 81st minute to leave the Wallabies shattered.
Rugby Australia ended up writing to World Rugby voicing its concerns about refereeing given the late and, what they considered, questionable time-wasting call.
The controversy has resurfaced on Aussie television, with Stan criticised for asking Nic White and Ned Hannigan to pelt tennis balls at the official as part of a light-hearted, game show-style skit.
French rugby journalist Gauthier Baudin wrote on Twitter, with a video of the skit: “As part of a tennis game for the Australian channel Stan Sport, Nic White and Ned Hanigan, Australian internationals, “targeted” the French referee Matthieu Raynal. Stan Sport’s tweet was deleted after much criticism.”
The video posted by Jared Wright on Twitter:
Nic White and Ned Hanigan targeting Mathieu Raynal at the Aussie Open.
Stan deleted the clip. pic.twitter.com/HpAl5ZPr0T
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) January 28, 2023
The clip apparently came in for heavy criticism for implying that rugby referees should be targeted.
The subject of how rugby union referees are treated is a touchy one of late in light of videos released by South African coach Rassie Erasmus in 2021, in which he criticised referee Nic Berry during the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour. Erasmus accused Berry of being biased towards the Lions in the firs Test, and of making several incorrect decisions during the match. The videos sparked debate among rugby fans and analysts, with some supporting Erasmus’s critique of Berry’s performance, while others criticized him for publicly criticizing a referee.
The incident has brought attention to the issue of how referees are treated within the sport and the impact that criticism can have on their personal lives due to the abuse directed at them on social media.
additional reporting AAP