Groundbreaking scenes as referee turns on Bok prop for shameful cheating attempt
Friday the 14th of April will go down in rugby history as the day that referee Ben Whitehouse singlehandedly started the resistance against players feigning injuries to milk a TMO review.
It all happened at Kings Park as the Sharks hosted Benetton in the United Rugby Championship. Before a lineout took place, Whitehouse checked on Sharks and South Africa tighthead Ox Nche to see if he was injured. Upon sussing that Nche was trying to milk a penalty, Whitehouse immediately gave a penalty to Benetton.
“What’s the injury? the referee said. “Are you trying to get a penalty? Back you go!”
Whitehouse then went and spoke to captain Siya Kolisi, warning him that players will be sent off if they try that again.
This is a growing trend in rugby, so much so that Bulls head coach Jake White recently launched a diatribe suggesting Ulster fly-half Billy Burns faked an injury to get Bismarck du Plessis yellow carded.
“There are clean-outs like that all over the game, and I didn’t even think it was a penalty,” White said.
“I often wonder if their number 10 hadn’t laid down on the ground, whether that would’ve been looked for…
“Obviously it’s something we have to look at going forward, because what we don’t want is that every time a player gets cleaned-out, he lies down and makes the TMO look and review things.
“It’s something that we have to be careful of, because I know it happened in football, and then all of a sudden, they brought in something where if you dive, you get sent off as well.
“So, who knows: maybe in rugby, because it’s such a fine line now between yellow cards, red cards and TMO involvements that we are not going to get players trying to use every opportunity to influence the TMO, (there needs to be a way to address that).”
Take a look at the Nche incident:
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) April 14, 2023
This was just one moment in a match where Nche and Whitehouse actually got on splendidly, as the Sharks won 43-33. Take a look at another interaction between the pair:
— Vodacom United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial_RSA) April 14, 2023