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Sir Graham Henry charged over ref criticism

Published: 5:22PM Thursday May 23, 2013 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE Sport

SANZAR has issued a misconduct charge against Sir Graham Henry in the wake of his explosive comments about the officiating in the Blues' 3-23 Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders.

The former All Blacks coach, now Blues defensive expert, complained about two particular incidents - a yellow-carding of lock Cullum Retallick and a disallowed Frank Halai - while blatant offsides apparently went unpenalised.

SANZAR alleges Henry's comments breached its disciplinary rules.

The complaint has been referred to the SANZAR judicial officer and a hearing will take place via teleconference on Sunday evening.

"Until the process has run its course, we cannot comment on the matter. In the meantime, we have a crucial match against the Brumbies to prepare for and deliver on Saturday night at Eden Park," said Blues chief executive Andy Dalton tonight.

Coach Sir John Kirwan today offered a more politically correct spin on the tirade that has had Super Rugby abuzz this week.

"Frank Halai [scored] a try in the corner - it would have been nice you had those given to you," Sir Graham complained to media.

"It was obvious to me. He is probably a blind TMO, is he?"

The other decision that particularly irked the master was the sin-binning of Retallick for deliberate knock-on with the Crusaders hot on attack.

"He's not that good," offered Sir Graham. "He's not that capable, with all due respects to 'Ret'."

When Sir Graham didn't front for the press after Blues practice today, Sir John was apologetic.

"Sorry to disappoint you guys, but we let him out and he had a bit of a dig, so we've just put him back again and settled him down a wee bit.

"It certainly changed the last three days for me."

Sir John admitted he was already talking to SANZAR officials and referees through regular back channels.

"We've been moving along those lines on some of our concerns and it's been fantastic," he said.

"We've done all the videos and spoken to the refs and got some clarification over some of those calls.

"We get frustrated, but there are different ways to communicate it. We've cut the videos, [SANZAR referee boss Linden Bray] has had a look at them and we've moved on now."

While Sir John insisted the introduction of Television Match Officials had been a positive for the game, he conceded the process still need "refining".

As the playoff race tightens - and the Blues are now just barely hanging on to a top-six spot - the pressure on everyone - coaches, players and officials - will only increase.

"The spotlight will be on all of us," he said. "We've seen some fantastic things happen this year from a refereeing and TMO point of view.

"We just need to keep refining that and as we get towards playoffs and spots, the pressure goes on.

"We've got a really big responsibility as coaches to help them with what we're seeing."

Sir John hinted rugby could learn off league - he played professionally in both codes - where referees make a decision before going to the television official for confirmation.