Derek Beven - Wales.
What is there to say about this guy that I didn't say during
the Tri Nations?
He is a real worry when playing advantage. Mr. Beven started off calling advantage quite well. However sometimes he would play it, and sometimes he would whistle quickly.
Then there were the things that he gave penalties for. Most of them were quite givable, but you have to wonder if it was really in the best interests of the game.
One in particular was Taine Randel with his hands all over the ball in a ruck. The penalty was given and became a third of Tonga's points. But this incident was nothing that a quick rake of the sprigs wouldn't have solved. Taine might be a big tough (adopted) Southern man, but he would be mindful of wanting to play the piano again, so rucking would have worked a treat!
The ABs didn't do themselves any favours in the first half. I was thinking during much of it, "How many times do we have to be so certain that a game will be a cruise, before we realise that we are psyching ourselves out!" However I will leave the game commentary up to wiser heads.
The game varied between a tight uninspiring first half - with
many obvious decisions for Mr. Beven, and a much more fluid and reassuring second half -
where his services were less in demand. In fact so little in demand I think that he was
asleep when Byron Kelleher was almost scalped.
In fact Kelleher showed how little effect a "head shot" has when you are really focused! Maybe it was the fact that he managed to continue running forwards, before being tackled again, that fooled Mr. Beven. However the fact that Kelleher looked liked he was having trouble focusing at all immediately afterwards, should have raised a question in Mr. Beven's mind.
However like the head rucking incident of the Auckland / Waikato NPC game, we haven't heard the last of it!
My last new comment about Mr. Beven is that he suffers from a mild form of delusion. He really believes that when he is telling off a player, that he is instilling the "fear of God" into him. However as anyone who has actually watched the (usually somewhat taller) offender's reaction, you can tell that they don't believe in Mr. Beven's God.
I think that some offenders actually feign compliance, so as not to be culturally offensive!
I call this a mild delusion, as it doesn't really impact on the game. A yellow card is enough to wake most people up, a tongue lashing is just window dressing!
We saw a classic Mr. Beven incident in the last part of the game when he told the Tongan Captain to have a word to his forwards about some offence. Of course the captain said, "Sure Mr. Beven". However he didn't.
So Mr. Beven stopped the game... and pointed out the
"having a word with the forwards" wasn't optional.
I am sure that most Northern Hemisphere referees expect to be shown respect. This is a bit of a problem when most players have had to earn theirs!
But in the end we all got something from the game, Tongan supporters the first half, and AB supporters the second half. And as for Mr. Beven: we got to see that the open game of rugby is able to flourish even with Northern Hemisphere Refs. It simply reduces the need for them to be (closely) involved in the game!