Defeat leaves bitter taste

One referee is taking a lot of flak for the manner in which he managed a school league rugby match at the coast.

14 July 2019 | Sports

Elic de Wee; Referee; “By law, if the ball touches grass … a try should be awarded.”

Walvis Bay • Otis Finck

Referee Elic de Wee has been on the receiving end of heavy criticism for a number of decisions and the way he handled a tightly contested Momentum U/19 Schools Rugby League match between Walvis Bay Private High School and Windhoek Gymnasium last weekend.

Some passionate WBPHS supporters questioned the validity of the winning try scored by Windhoek Gym during the final moments of the match and De Wee’s capability to handle what they termed a high intensity match.

A WhatsApp message containing a photo allegedly showing that the ball was not properly grounded during the last and winning try awarded by De Wee, surfaced after the match and was circulated in the coastal town.

De Wee said that his coaching and refereeing credentials speak for itself. He admitted that he had mistakenly brought the match to a premature finish at 27 minutes instead of the allowable 35 minutes, with the scores level on 17-17. However, he said he immediately rectified his mistake.

“No players left the field of play and the match went ahead within moments.”

He questioned the reasoning behind the photo and said it was not a true reflection of what transpired on the field of play.

“The momentum of the player carried him over the try line and he grounded the ball. It happened right in front of me and the assistant referee did not see anything faulty with the try. Why are the rest of the photos showing the grounding of the ball being withheld?”

De Wee also pointed out that he was approached after the final whistle by one of the WBPHS players in a very threatening manner and thus he walked away to the dressing room to avoid any trouble.

Confrontation

“When I left the dressing room, one of the WBPHS supporters stopped me and confronted me about some of the so-called contentious decisions I had made during the game. I explained to him that I acted legally and within the rules of the game of rugby. He insisted that I was wrong and insulted me.”

While on his way to the main gate, another supporter came over to him, yelling and accusing him of helping Windhoek Gymnasium to win the game.

“I had to rush out of the sport grounds before other supporters blocked me on my way to the gate.”

In a report addressed to Oscar Lambert and William Steenkamp of the Namibian Rugby Referees Society, De Wee said WBPHS players constantly questioned his decision-making and he had to stop the game numerous times to explain the laws to the players.

“I had to concentrate on WBPHS players more than letting the game flow. A WBPHS player even responded by taking a threatening stance. I assumed his intention was to become violent. I issued many warnings and decided not to give any cards for back-chatting because it would have ended with more than one player being sent to the sin bin.”

When asked for comment, Lambert said he was not at liberty to discuss the issue. However, he mentioned that an investigation would be conducted into the incident and referred the newspaper to Steenkamp, who said he had not seen the report.

According to De Wee, one of the assistant referees informed him at half-time that Windhoek Gymnasium supporters were using foul language and discriminating words on the far side of the field.

“I confronted the school’s head coach, Jaco Engels, about the issue and he immediately addressed the situation. It is evident that much of the angry behaviour that followed came from WBPHS supporters seated all around the field.”

De Wee pointed out that he only discovered after the game that two assistant referees were actually not allowed to officiate the match.

“One had a player in the game and the other one never registered as a referee. He neglected to correct me when I mentioned that he is registered to a Windhoek Gymnasium supporter who wanted to be a touchline judge.”

Efforts to obtain comments from WBPH principal Estelle Eigelaar and the head of sport Henjan van der Hyde at the school were unsuccessful.

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