Monday 24 September 2018

Van Graan eager to get over TMO mishap

Johann van Graan (right) in conversation this week with Pieter Kruger – a performance psychologist who has worked with the Springboks, Brumbies, Harlequins, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal. The Munster boss is reluctant to dwell on officiating errors in last weekend’s loss to Glasgow. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Johann van Graan (right) in conversation this week with Pieter Kruger – a performance psychologist who has worked with the Springboks, Brumbies, Harlequins, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal. The Munster boss is reluctant to dwell on officiating errors in last weekend’s loss to Glasgow. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rarely, if ever, have Munster supporters seen Johann van Graan as angry as he was following last week's 25-10 defeat to Glasgow.

The South African was clearly irked by the manner of his side's defeat as well as some questionable calls in Scotstoun, and it showed in his post-match television interview.

Glasgow were far better than Munster on the night, yet some of the decisions were perplexing, not least the incident involving Callum Gibbins' strong clear-out on Sammy Arnold in the 10th minute.

Referee Ben Whitehouse had a good view of the incident and immediately flagged it with his TMO Neil Patterson. But when the challenge was reviewed, the TMO glossed over the relevant clip and instead showed replays of other irrelevant phases.

Watching the clip back, you can clearly hear Whitehouse saying: "Just check that last clear-out please, Neil."

The reaction of John Ryan, who was close-by, spoke volumes for how dangerously he thought Gibbins entered the ruck, but the prop's protestations fell on deaf ears.

It was a bizarre incident and one that does the optics of the Guinness PRO14 no favours, and inevitably it drew plenty of anger, including from Alan Quinlan, who was left baffled.

"For some strange reason, Neil Patterson couldn't find it," the former flanker said on Off the Ball.

"It's very, very unprofessional. How can you not find the footage? Someone needs to come out and say why that footage wasn't there. How they can't find it is beyond a joke."

Van Graan took a more diplomatic approach but he made his disgust clear during his post-match interview, when he was unusually short with his answers.

Most of the anger was, however, likely to have come from the manner of his side's first-half performance.

The decision, or lack of, didn't decide the outcome of the game but Gibbins did score a try soon after, when he might have been in the sin bin. The Munster boss didn't blame the officials, but he did seek clarification for some of their calls afterwards.

"Look, let me put it to you this way, there were quite a few incidents in this game," van Graan said in Limerick this week, after having time to reflect on the events in Glasgow.

"We spoke to Greg (Garner), the referees' manager, as we do every single week. It's important to keep that relationship going. He's done very well in communicating back to us and they've been very consistent.

"I think the only thing that all coaches want is clarity - clarity regarding certain incidents. The TMO incident on Sammy (Arnold), the TMO couldn't find it and I can't do anything about that now.

"But the communication has been constant. It's very important for player welfare that we look at the right things and we play within the spirit of the game. It's obviously not the referee's mistake, he can only see what's on the screen.

"It is frustrating but like I said, I can't do anything about it now. We handled it afterwards through the right channels and I'm satisfied with the explanation that was given to me.

"That being said, I'll never blame a referee if we lose a game. Like I said it's not nice, we need to be better.

"They've got such a difficult job making decisions. The only thing we want is clarity and consistency and a good game of rugby."

Munster also struggled at scrum time and trailing 22-0 at the break, Van Graan felt like he had no option but to ring the changes.

Again, Van Graan in no way pointed the finger at the officials. Instead, he believes that his players have to adapt to what the referee wants at the set-piece in Friday's clash with the Ospreys at Irish Independent Park.

"We asked for feedback. We had one or two different interpretations regarding those but we were happy, we'll adapt accordingly," he added.

"I want to emphasise for any referee that sees something happen and has a picture in his mind. That's why I made the change (Stephen Archer for Ryan) at half-time to try and change the picture and I think it did.

"Every coach has to make a call and I did. We changed the picture and in the second half we got the penalties. From day one when I arrived I said we have got to adapt and I thought we did that at half-time."

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