Lealiifano calls for captain's challenge

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies co-captain Christian Lealiifano would support the introduction of a captain’s challenge system when it comes to try reviews.

Lealiifano said the status quo which allows TMOs or on-field referees to review a try after it has been awarded if the kicker is yet to take the conversion shot, was “frustrating”.

“TMOs play a big role in tries now and they get to look at a lot of things so obviously frustrating at times,” he said.

“If the ref makes a decision I think you’ve got to back that unless you’ve got a referral from the opposition captain, I think that probably would’ve been better.”

The Brumbies had one try awarded and one disallowed in their 30-22 win over the Rebels, with Lealiifano taking a quick kick in the first half after a possible forward pass in the lead up.

An Allan Alaalatoa try was disallowed on review in the 70th minute, with referee Rohan Hoffmann stopping Lealiifano in his run up after seeing a potential Scott Fardy knock on in the previous phase.

Lealiifano said a challenge system, similar to systems in tennis and cricket, could help streamline a process that holds up matches and raises more questions than answers.

“Maybe a challenge system (would be better),” he said.

“I think at the moment TMOs are just looking at everything and the game just sort of halts a bit and you lose a bit of momentum and it’s frustrating.

“You’re sort of worrying about is everything a try, was everything in the lead up good and you’re trying to rush kicks and all that kind of stuff.

“Probably puts more pressure on than enjoying the celebration of scoring a nice try.”

The Brumbies kicker said the rules also put pressure on the goal-takers, who feel a need to rush kicks in a bid to avoid a possible review.

“I think as a kicker you always want to take the time that you’re allocated and it gets a bit frustrating like that when guys are worried about something in the lead up,” he said.

Ultimately, Lealiifano said faith needed to be placed on the field rather than the big screen, with three referees able to see tries play out in real time.

“I think there’s three officials out there on the field that should pick those kind of things up and they’re not superhuman, but you’ve got three officials you’ve got to put enough faith in (them).

“If they want to refer something they’ve got to do that immediately rather than award a try and then look back.”

Lealiifano’s proposal followed a scathing assessment of the current system from Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham, who said the problem had to be addressed immediately.

The Brumbies win was their first run of consecutive victories since round three and Lealiifano said it would give them crucial momentum heading into their final four games of the year.

“We’ve had a tough run with injuries and opposition we’ve played,” he said.

“To get back-to-back (wins) is important but crucially it’s building some momentum moving forward into the run into the finals.