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Morrison went on principle

Wed, 11 Sep 2013 13:21
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This shifting of authority could be seen as a victory for the grouchers
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The sudden departure of Ed Morrison from his post as the head of England's elite referees came as a shock and aroused suspicions that it was not a simple 'retirement'. It would seem that the suspicions are founded.

Morrison's departure came on the eve of the start of the Premiership when his referees would be most in need of him. His e-mail was cut off with immediate effect.

Now an article by Neale Harvey in The Rugby Paper suggests that there was a change in referee management, instituted by England's Rugby Football Union who were Morrison's employer, and Premiership Rugby.

The duo are intent on exerting increasing influence on referees with increasing scrutiny of match officials, a move which Morrison opposed in the belief that referees are best qualified to manage referees, "believing it would fatally undermine the authority of his elite refereeing department and its mandate to uphold IRB Law, but the Union chose to proceed forcing Morrison’s hand, according to The Rugby Paper.

It has been suggested that the increase in outside control of referees follows the criticism by some clubs of the standard of refereeing in the Premiership, which included uncontrolled outbursts and accusation by coaches. Morrison maintained that there were plenty of channels available for informed criticism of referees. This shifting of authority could be seen as a victory for the grouchers.

The Rugby Paper said that the main role envisaged in the change would be taken on by Geraint Aston Jones. Ashton Jones refereed 23 Premierdship rugby matches between 1999 and 2005, the same number as the Tests which Morrison refereed, which included a World Cup Final.

It is not known if the RFU will advertise a replacement for Morrison but in the meantime Tony Spreadbury, the former Test referee, will be acting in the job.

The Rugby Paper says: "Sources close to Morrison describe him as 'deeply disappointed and upset', while officials are reported to be in a militant mood, with some senior referees and assistants considering their own positions."

That many are upset is understandable as Morrison was always admired for his integrity and expertise, built on his love of rugby and his knowledge of the game and refereeing. He is known as a kind man with a great sense of humour. But whether the referees will go any distance in their objection to the changes is unlikely. Referees are compliant people, sensitive of their menial position in rugby's household.

NB: To read the entire article by The Rugby Paper', CLICK here!

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