Richard Cockerill accuses referees of bias against Edinburgh
Richard Cockerill believes his Edinburgh team is being harshly treated by referees.
The coach felt two of Scarlets’ four tries at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday night would have been ruled out had referee John Lacey have gone to the Television Match Official (TMO).
The Irish referee chose not to, but did consult with the TMO before sending off prop Michele Rizzo.
Cockerill had no complaints at Rizzo’s dismissal for striking Scarlets’ scrum-half Gareth Davies on the head with his shoulder.
However, he was angry that the official did not take advantage of television replays to check what he felt were two wrongly awarded tries.
Cockerill said: “The letter of the law says, whether your arm is up or not, it’s a shoulder to the head and I suppose you have no choice. Rules is rules and of course it was very costly.
“I thought we were a bit unfortunate at times, because I thought the second try was crossing all day long.
“I don’t know why the referee didn’t go to the TMO because we were live on television. Unfortunately, because it’s Edinburgh, it doesn’t get checked.
“I also thought the third try was a forward pass by a mile and the players are saying the player is in touch when he passes it.
“I just want us to be treated fairly. We are supposed to lose and that is how I felt we were refereed. That is disappointing because John Lacey is an international referee and I expect him to referee better than that.
“I want Edinburgh to be refereed fairly and I didn’t think we were refereed fairly.”
Asked if that was the perception from others about how the side have been refereed in the past, Cockerill added: “It was mentioned to me by the players, coming into the season, and I thought you saw that. The players asked him to look at the second try on the TMO and he refused. Watch it, it was crossing. That’s a big call because we would have been 8-7 up at half-time. And if you scratch those two tries out, we get a bonus point.”
Edinburgh never looked like winning the game, despite one or two outstanding performances from the likes of Hamish Watson and Ben Toolis.
Cockerill added: “I have no problem with the result because Scarlets were the better side. But I thought our effort, endeavour and mentality deserved more out of the game.”
After a pretty lacklustre opening quarter during which both sides flattered to deceive, the hosts struck first through Rhys Patchell’s try and Leigh Halfpenny’s conversion.
The lead was doubled on half an hour when the forwards set up camp in the 22 and Davies, after a lovely show and go, nipped in for Halfpenny to add the extras.
Edinburgh struggled for field position throughout the half. Despite one or two promising box kicks from Nathan Fowles, they were pretty much second best.
They did grab a lifeline just before half-time, thanks to some outstanding work from Watson. Having forced Patchell to hold on, after the outside half had slipped on the greasy surface, Edinburgh were awarded a penalty that Duncan Weir duly popped over.
With four minutes of the half remaining, Edinburgh moved to within six points thanks to the game’s best passage of play. Fowles ordered his forwards to gain field position and when they did, Jason Harries was sent into a gap and over for a try that Weir failed to convert.
In the 55th minute Edinburgh found themselves down to 14 when prop Rizzo was sent off for a dangerous clearout at a ruck that forced scrum-half Davies to leave the field with a head injury.
A minute later, Scarlets were further in front as replacement prop Werner Kruger burrowed his way over for try number three.
The night was up for Edinburgh 18 minutes from time when Aaron Shingler crossed for his side’s bonus-point try.
Cockerill has called for patience and understanding within Edinburgh Rugby. However, he is confident that the side is heading in the right direction.
“This place is not built on solid foundations and we have got to understand that and keep building. Four years ago, Scarlets were muddling around and now they are the champions.
“You have to start somewhere and we are starting to make those changes. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be painless. So, that is how you have to attack it.
“If the expectation is that we should be in the top three and be competing in the play offs, I’m going to get sacked because that is not reality at this point. So, we need to build the squad and give our young players the right experience.”
Scarlets: Tries: Patchell, G Davies, Kruger, Shingler. Cons: Halfpenny (4)
Edinburgh: Try: Harries. Pen: Weir
Scarlets: L Halfpenny; J McNicholl, J Davies (P Asquith 64), H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell (R Jones 67), G Davies (A Davies 55); R Evans (W Jones 70), K Owens (R Elias 64), S Lee (W Kruger 40), J Ball (D Bulbring 64), T Beirne, A Shingler, W Boyde, J Barclay (J Macleod 30)
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; T Brown, C Dean, P Burleigh (R Fruean 58), J Harries; D Weir (J Tovey 65), N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne 57); M Rizzo, S McInally (R Ford 52), W Nel (S Berghan 52), B Toolis, G Gilchrist (J Hardie 65), J Ritchie (D Marfo 58), H Watson, M Bradbury (F McKenzie 65)
Referee: J Lacey (IRFU)