Where’s your father,referee?

Feb 04, 2013

Kenyan rugby fans love referees so much that they have composed a special song for these ‘special’ breed of human beings. It does not matter where the fans or the referees are.

The song is a hit.I am just wondering why they have not patented it.

The first few stanzas goes, "Where’s your father, where’s your father, where’s your father refereeee, where’s your father, where’s your father, where’s your father refereeee…."

The next stanzas are unprintable!

This is why the referees are wary of Kenyan fans.

Somebody who has not been on the Kenyan stands would be shocked that fans could be so ‘rude’ to the referees.

The words of the songs were going through my mind when I watched the final of the Wellington Sevens between Kenya and England at the Westpac Stadium. Kenya were leading 19-12.

The hooter was long gone and history was in the making. Kenya were in their second final since 2009 and were on the verge of winning their first cup final. Matt O’Brien then gave Kenya captain Andrew Amonde a yellow card!

The numerical advantage allowed England back in the game with Christian Lewis-Pratt scoring and converting to tie the scores 19-19.

Then, Oscar Ouma was next off! Kenya had only five men on the pitch at the start of extra time! Dare I say that if this was a match between New Zealand and England, no referee could have dared give two yellow cards!

Costly zero tolerance

Up to this final, Kenya had kept a clean sheet with not even a single card or caution.

Zero tolerance yes but, unfortunately only the referee can interpret rules. As a player, referees were not my bosom friends.

I did not get a card though. For more than 10 years, I have covered rugby and interacted with referees to the highest level.

Off the record, they admit making mistakes but somehow the rugby laws are over protective. When a referee makes a mistake, they are silently removed from the roll! Coaches are under strict instructions not to criticize referees and video evidence is not being used in sevens rugby at the moment.

Former Kenya coach Benjamin Ayimba made his feelings known and is on record as saying that any fifty fifty chance call will be in favor of the ‘big’ teams.

As a rugby writer, I have been told severally that it is not good to ‘criticize’ referees!

These thoughts are still fresh in my mind and feel like singing to the referee! In one of my tours with the Kenya team, the same England team refused to share a changing room with Kenya.

They were unsporting too ridiculing Kenyans by writing on their tent some words to the effect that anybody who ever thought of beating England was dreaming!

Their tent faced Kenya’s. Fairness is what I am advocating for here and it is time that the IRB took control of the referees instead of being over protective.

Video replays should be used in sevens rugby. It may slow down the already fast game but the result will be credible.

Eric Odanga

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