International condemnation for Bryce Lawrence has continued to gather momentum and he has now been overlooked for the semi-finals, and seemingly the final, by the IRB. Pressure from rugby fans has also led to a Facebook campaign for action to be taken and Bryce Lawrence himself is reported to be considering quitting the game.
It says something about the way sport and media (and social media) has changed and referees are under far more scrutiny than ever before.
The fundamental difference between Bryce Lawrence’s performances and other refereeing mistakes (Wayne Barnes for example) is that on the whole other mistakes are just that – a blip in the game – and players/coaches/fans are mature enough to realise that their team made more mistakes that cost them the game than a refereeing blemish.
Bryce Lawrence has just looked out of his depth for the entire tournament (and in reality before it) and the IRB need to realise they made a mistake in appointing him.
Given the catalouge of issues that have gone before in his performances, from the Lions in 2009 to the recent Australia v Ireland World Cup pool match, it is no wonder that the pressure is beginning to take its toll.
Refereeing is more about the mental fitness than the physical – and Bryce has sadly demonstrated that his current approach is wrong – particularly compared to some of his contemporaries – Nigel Owens, Alain Rolland and Craig Joubert (who has been fantastic and could be a good bet to ref the final).
It would be sad if Bryce Lawrence quits all forms of the game – but it is probably right that the IRB take a view and reconsider his involvement at the highest level.
All referees have car crash games, where everything goes wrong, but Bryce is a metaphorical regular pile-up! You wouldn’t allow such incompetent drivers on the road and the IRB shouldn’t encourage the same from their elite.