Jerry-Collins-1200This weekend started off on a very sad note with the tragic passing of one of my favourite characters in the game Jerry Collins, who died in a car crash together with his wife in France. One of the toughest men out there, he had a no-nonsense attitude and was famous for his ability to smash ball carriers back from whence they came. Off the field he was a gentle kind man.

An incident springs to mind when, after I had reffed his 50th match for the Canes he stepped into our change room and invited all of us to have a few drinks with him at a local sports bar in downtown Wellington. When Tappe and I got there, we saw that not only were we invited, but the whole Waratahs team were there as well. And there was Jerry, treating us all with the fruits of his hard-earned labour. I salute you Jerry. Well played chum!

Also, I errantly reported that the TMO from last weeks Highlanders Chiefs game had made a cock up just before half time. In fact, an MPEG clip was sent to me showing the ball had touched the hand of the would be try scorer, possibly resulting in a knock-on. Given the above, and the fact that the try would be contentious at best, apologies to Glen Newman who made the right call.

The Canes put on a superb performance against a Highlanders team resting a few key players and ran out comfortable winners in Napier today (56-20). There was always only one team in it, and it was a fitting tribute to Jerry Collins. The game was superbly refereed by Jaco Peyper , whose control and excellent use of the whistle resulted in this free flowing spectacle. He spoke when he needed to, brandished cards at the right moment, thought with clarity, communicated with the minimum of fuss… and we had a game that we all enjoyed, where the right team won, and the score was a fair reflection of the nights work.

It wasn’t all perfect. There was once again a TMO call that did not get the correct outcome. With the Canes pressing near the try line, Jeremy Thrush came in from the side (clearly a penalisable offence)
that had a profound influence on outcome and then held on to the Highlanders prop for just long enough to prevent him from defending his post, thereby allowing Perenara to go through the hole created to score. It should have been a penalty. An interesting debate is whether the TMO, who is in the best position to view these things, should merely answer the referees question, or get the decision right… to serve the best interests of the game. For me there is no debate. Get it right! If this was a close game or a Final, that type of error could be catastrophic in respect of the final outcome, as a huge reward has gone to the team that has definitely transgressed.

On a lighter note, I would think that Jaco Pepyer’s performances recently may have set him up very nicely for a crack at a Final, and if he misses, it won’t be by much! You heard it here first.

The Brumbies needed 5 points to guarantee their Finals appearance when they travelled to the Force. They are the better team, they have a better arsenal of weapons and even away from home were too strong for the willing men from the West. Ironically, they were beaten twice by the team they denied, the Tahs, but landed up being the more consistent of the 2 teams in the pool stages.