Cockerill refuses to hold tongue
February 23, 2013
Richard Cockerill has again expressed his disappointment with Premiership refereeing © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has refused to back down after criticising the standard of refereeing in the Premiership this season.
The former England hooker did not hold back in his criticism of Wayne Barnes after his side were on the wrong end of a 15-6 penalty count in their 25-21 loss to Harlequins a week ago. He is not the only person who has become exasperated at the level of officiating this season, with Quins' Conor O'Shea also speaking out following their win over London Welsh in January.
The Tigers sent a report to the Rugby Football Union following the match at Twickenham Stoop, but Cockerill wants stronger action.
"I can take getting penalised 15 times at Quins, I just want the opposition to be penalised for the same things," Cockerill told The Leicester Mercury. "I don't want any favours. All referees bring different interpretations and that is no problem for me. Just referee it the same for both teams, please. I get plenty of criticism for talking about it, but why should we ignore it?
"It was a four-point ball game and the penalty count was more than double against us. My main concern was that the other side were doing the same things and not getting penalised for them. We have sent those clips to Ed Morrison (head of the RFU's Elite Referees Development) and I am not going to let that lie. "If we get beaten by the better side and the referee was mainly right, I wouldn't complain. But when they are not right, I have every right to air those opinions."
Leicester were on the end of another defeat to Harlequins in last season's Premiership final, a match that Barnes refereed. Cockerill expressed his disappointment at the time, but feels that the message still isn't getting through to those that matter.
"If you go through the right channels and things don't change, you are forced to discuss them in public. How else can you get change?" he said. "There were issues in the Grand Final with that referee and how it was refereed then - issues that the Elite Refereeing Department agreed with after the game. There were similar issues on Saturday. Am I just to ignore that just because he is a referee? Well I am not going to sit here and be quiet because that keeps the status quo.
"I asked to have a conference call with Wayne Barnes so we can discuss some of our issues. Coaches and referees have to work together because this is a professional era. I am not always wrong because I am the coach and they are certainly not always right because they are referees."
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