Jake White. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Gallo Images)
- Bulls mentor Jake White says he and his charges can’t complain about law interpretations up north and will simply need to adapt.
- The issue reared its head regularly in Friday’s 7-34 URC defeat to Connact as the Bulls were undermined by technical issues at the breakdown and had to deal with a suspect obstruction call.
- White also pointed out that the toss is surprisingly important at venues such as Galway.
Jake White insists it’s no use to the Bulls complaining about refereeing in the northern hemisphere following Friday night’s 7-34 loss to Connacht in their United Rugby Championship encounter in Galway.
The Loftus-based franchise ran into the buffers of a challenging arbiter in Ben Blain, whom at times seemed to apply two sets of rules, particularly at the breakdown.
“It’s all about learning to adapt,” said the Bulls’ director of rugby.
“Here we are. Obviously we’ve done really well in South Africa, now we’re in a different environment playing against different opposition. and different interpretations of how they see the game being played. We’ve got to adapt. It’s as simple as that.”
White highlighted a couple of areas where they struggled to fit in with Blain’s way of seeings things.
“If you’re allowed to hold on to the tackler and go to the ground with him and that’s interpreted as okay, then we can’t moan about it. We’ve got to do the same thing,” said the Bulls’ director of rugby.
“There’s been some talk about the so-called flying wedge, where you can’t bind with two guys around the ball-carrier and there were times today where I thought even in these conditions where it was harder to stop even one guy when there were three guys flying towards you. It made things difficult.”
White was also philosophical about Connacht winger Mack Hanson’s try, where he brilliantly exploited a poor kick from Bulls halfback Zak Burger but was also assisted by his lock, Oisin Dowling, impeding prop Lizo Gqoboka from making a potential tackle.
Upon a TMO review, it was ruled the obstruction wasn’t “deliberate” and a score that demoralised the Bulls stood.
“You heard (captain) Marcell (Coetzee) ask the referee. Some would argue Lizo was maybe obstructed, but that’s exactly what you learn coming here,” said White.
“We’re going to have to find ways of regrouping in matches, you saw how Connacht scored twice quickly at the start of the second half. Suddenly you’re playing into the wind uphill on the field and it becomes very difficult to mount a comeback.
“There were times we played nicely, but I’m never going to say I’m happy with a 7-34 loss when you led 7-0.”
Another major factor is something the Bulls – and their countrymen – will only get used to by visiting foreign grounds more regularly.
“There’s no doubting that Connacht know how to play on this field. The wind was pumping and the rain came down,” said White.
“When you lose the toss here, it really becomes like cricket. You struggle to get up the hill. The ground is sloped that way and it’s also the direction the wind comes from.
“I don’t think people appreciate how tough it was to carry the ball out of your half. It’s different when you score tries running down the hill.
“The reality is we weren’t good in the conditions and we weren’t accurate.”