Connacht coach Pat Lam is calling on a new system to regulate referees in the RaboDirect Pro 12.
In the wake of Connacht’s 32-30 loss to the Scarlets last weekend in Parc Y Scarlets, Lam says all the referees from the four countries should be controlled by a single entity, similar to SANZAR in the Southern Hemisphere.
“It is a hard job, but all we want is accountability. There are four bosses here for referees and I think the Celtic League can improve the standard of officiating across the board if they were all to come under one umbrella.”
Lam continues to be frustrated by refereeing calls at “crucial times of the game”, that he believes are costing Connacht.
Last weekend against the Scarlets, after Connacht had forced their way back from a 25-6 deficit to close the gap to 25 - 23, a penalty against Connacht when camped on the Scarlets’ line provided the home side with possession from which they scored.
Lam says the penalty was a “big call” at a crucial time, and one he believed should have gone the other way.
“ I was astounded the penalty went the other way, and that is frustrating, because if you look at the amount of bonus point losses we have had, officials have given us hard calls. It is about consistency.”
The former Auckland Blues coach says touch judges are similar in their approach to Connacht, calling for television match officials to decide tries that have clearly been scored.
“If you look at our season and look at the seven losses - I have got four apologies from referees where we got bonus points, including the two Leinster games.”
Lam, however, says Connacht should never have allowed Scarlets to build up a lead, and as a result paid the price. Howevr the character and belief in the team prevented a repeat of the Saracens’ rout.
Although Connacht came away from Llanelli with two points, the Scarlets denied Lam’s side a record fifth win on the trot. Simon Easterby’s side also consolidated their position in the top six for the guaranteed Heineken Cup place, while Connacht are now seven points behind in seventh place.
“It’s out of our control now. We just have to regroup and face Ulster, then Munster - there are no easy games. We have got to keep going. We are still going for the sixth place, but there are other targets because Connacht have never ever finished higher than eighth.”
If Connacht’s previous four wins were led by the pack, last Sunday’s was driven by the backs. Fullback Robbie Henshaw was the star, but he was aided in no small measure by scrumhalf Kieran Marmion, and wing Fionn Carr, who all scored. No 8 Eoin McKeon grabbed the fourth on the stroke of full time, while Dan Parks and Miah Nilora provided 12 points.
Scarlets had grabbed a 25 - 6 lead, but Connacht’s display of real grit earned them two valuable points, crossing the whitewash three times in the final eight minutes. And against a tiring Scarlets’ outfit, one sensed Connacht would have grabbed the winner had time not run out.
Connacht: R Henshaw, T O'Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr, D Parks, K Marmion, D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, A Muldowney, M Kearney, J Muldoon, E Masterson, E McKeon. Replacements, N White for Ah You (46m ), M Swift for Kearney (49m ), A Browne for Masterson and D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (52m ), R Loughney for Browne (62m ), M Nikora for Parks (64m ), D Leader for O'Halloran (68m ).