Venter charged over referee comments

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Brendan Venter has been charged by the Rugby Football Union with "conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game" following his criticism of referee David Rose.

The Saracens director of rugby is alleged to have questioned Rose's integrity by stating he believed the referee was influenced at half-time in his side's 22-15 defeat to Leicester last weekend.

Venter has been summoned to appear before an RFU disciplinary panel in London on January 19. If found guilty, he faces a touchline ban.

Venter was furious at what he perceived to be an unfair turnaround in the penalty count in the second half at Vicarage Road last Saturday.

He went on to castigate the general standard of officials in the Guinness Premiership, effectively accusing them of lacking the same professional standards as players and coaches.

Venter claimed penalties are being awarded at random and that the "lottery" of referees' decision-making at the breakdown was killing rugby.

But it was for Venter's specific criticism of Rose, made during a BBC interview, that the RFU have levelled a disrepute charge.

The RFU statement read: "The alleged offence is that on January 2, 2010 Brendan Venter, director of rugby Saracens RFC, whilst taking part in a BBC interview, criticised or implied criticism by publicly questioning the integrity of the match referee in regard to the reasons for the change of penalty count from the first to second half in the match Saracens v Leicester Tigers by stating that he believed that the referee had been influenced at half time."

Speaking to written journalists after the game, Venter also seemed to imply that Rose had been influenced during the half-time interval, something Leicester categorically denied.

Venter said at the time: "The penalty count in the first half was 9-3 to Sarries. The penalty count in the second half was 10-4 to Leicester.

"I didn't say to my team: 'Look boys we are leading, let's cheat more'.

"We asked the referee to keep everything the same in the second half.

"Something happened to this poor referee and there was basically a 12 penalty swing. There was one referee in the first half, he walked through a maze or something, and he came out another referee.

"This is a professional game and this is a problem. I don't think referees are dishonest, we just do not have the ability to stay objective."

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths said: "The club will mount a vigorous defence.

"Brendan offered an impassioned, rational and widely supported analysis of problems currently facing the game.

"He did not question the integrity of the referee at any stage and, in fact, on the contrary, stressed on several occasions he does not believe any of the officials are dishonest."