Richards: Key decisions cost us
Richards, whose side produced tries from Taione Vea and George McGuigan, said: “For the second week on the trot a referee’s decision has cost us points. You beg the question why. A call was called in from the touch judge saying white 17 in from the side at the ruck, he chose to ignore it two metres from our line and that then led to their try. You beg the question why he ignored that call.
“There has got to be something that is not happening between ourselves and the referees, because the same thing happened at Bath the week before. You have to ask are the referees getting the right input, because at the moment it is one-way traffic against the teams at the bottom.”
He added: “Looking at our own game there are elements we need to look at and address, but when you get inconsistencies in decision-making from one week to the next you don’t know which way to turn. The players aren’t getting the luck of the draw from the referees, and today was a classic case in point whereby it has cost us points again. We are looking not just at the referees but the refereeing department. It is no coincidence that there is a lack of confidence in the refereeing department at this moment in time, and we are not quite sure which way to go with it. We are not getting anything from them at all.”
Quick to credit an energetic performance, Richards said: “I thought our players applied themselves incredibly well. There is no doubt about the fact they put their body on the line week in, week out, and they are not rewarded for it by the referees. I would look at it and say we are cleaner in terms of the penalties we concede than most other sides. You have to be whiter than white, and even then you are penalised. Some of their players could get away with anything all day long today and they would never have been penalised.”
With a four-point buffer now separating the Falcons from the foot of the table, the director of rugby said: “We understand the importance of the games but we just want consistency in terms of the refereeing. We are not getting that at the moment and those 50-50 calls just aren’t going our way.
“The players have lost heart in terms of understanding what a referee is looking for from a game. When a touch judge calls in seconds from the end of a game saying white 17 has come in from the side we get penalised for it all day long. We try and be as clean as anything but they can get away with it. When it has been signalled to the referee you just wonder why these things happen.
“We are a good side. We can score tries when we want to, we just want the ability to be able to play on a fair footing with everybody else. We are not getting that at the moment. Our scrum holds up well, our line-out functions well, in attack we have got Sinoti back and things are heading in the right direction. It is just the other bits and pieces which aren’t.”