Top 14 - Newspaper Review
Boudjellal hits out at referee
May 17, 2010
Toulon's interest in the Top 14 play-offs was ended after a controversial defeat by Clermont © Getty Images
Outspoken Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has once again put the spotlight on French refereeing standards following some controversial decisions in his side's 29-35 defeat to Clermont Auvergne in Saturday's Top 14 semi-final.
Referee Jérôme Garces awarded Davitt Zirakashvili's try on the spot although TV replays later revealed that the Georgian prop had knocked on as he barged over the line. Boudjellal's fury was compounded by a Jonny Wilkinson penalty kick adjudged to have gone wide by the touch judges - looked as though it had gone over on the TV replay from behind the posts.
"There is a bad taste in my mouth," Boudjellal told Var Matin. "There were two decisions that were detrimental. It cost us ten points. The video [referee] exists in rugby. Given what's at stake, we shouldn't hesitate to use it."
Racing Metro coach Pierre Berbizier was cited last weekend for comments made about the refereeing in his side's play-off match against Clermont. However, Boudjellal stopped short of condemning referee Garces entirely.
"I'm not saying the referee was dishonest," he added. "Anyone can make a mistake. However, if there is a contentious issue surrounding a try or penalty, I don't see why he doesn't investigate it."
Meanwhile, Toulouse forwards coach Yannick Bru has admitted that his sides' love affair with the Heineken Cup may have contributed to their downfall in their semi-final defeat to Perpignan.
Toulouse, who meet Biarritz in an all-French Heineken final in Paris this weekend, put out a weakened side against reigning champions Perpignan on Friday night but pushed them all the way before stumbling to a 21-13 loss.
"Without a doubt, our heads were turned too much towards the H Cup final," lamented Bru, in an interview with La Depeche du Midi. "Once again, I've to take some responsibility for this. We didn't focus enough on the challenges of this semi final."
Bru claimed however that the game against Pepignan would be a wake-up call ahead of the final in Paris this weekend, saying: "The Catalans have put our feet back on the ground. This match was a good warning signal."