So does the Captain have the "right" to speak to the referee? No he doesn't. However referee's recognise that it makes for a better game if the referee works "with" the captain, for the good of the game.
Before tossing the coin at the start of the game, The Referee will have a little chat with both captains.
"Captains. Discipline is down to you; you manage your players, I will manage the game".
"Captains. Players play, referee's ref. Make sure you don't get the two mixed up. Any questions through you please".
"Captains. I don't want to hear players appealing for perceived offences. If I hear it, you hear it, so shut them up from the off. If you can't do that I will have to and my options are very limited".
As you can see, the words vary, but the message is the same. When players start appealing for offences there are several problems.
- They only appeal for what the other team do, never themselves.
- It can stop the referee playing advantage, or waiting to see what develops (in other words it can slow the game down).
- If the referee gives the penalty, it looks as if he is reacting to the appeal. This means the other team think they can get a penalty by appealing. An Irish parliament ensues.
So back to the captain. You will all have heard referee's say "questions through your captain please".
The Rugby Ref gives the captain permission to ask a question, to which he will give the courtesy of a reply. But it must be a question (what was that last penalty for please Sir?) and it must be at the appropriate time (not when a quick penalty is on). This is not an invitation to debate a decision, nor is it an excuse for a captain to berate the referee.
If the captain fails to follow these simple guidelines, then the referee can withdraw the permission, if the captain still fails to follow, then he can be sent off. Yes, that's right, the captain can be sent off for speaking to the referee, especially if it is in an inappropriate manner, or at an inappropriate time. This is not something that the referee will do lightly, but the option is there.
10.4 DANGEROUS PLAY AND MISCONDUCT
(s) All players must respect the authority of the referee. They must not dispute the referee’s
decisions. They must stop playing at once when the referee blows the whistle except at a
kick-off or at a penalty kick following admonishment, temporary suspension, or send-off.
Sanction: Penalty kick
You will notice it says "All" players. No exception is made for the captain. As this is under the Foul Play Law, the following applies:
(a) Any player who infringes any part of the Foul Play Law must be admonished, or cautioned
and temporarily suspended for a period of ten minutes’ playing time, or sent-off.
So to summarise; the captain is given special permission to speak to the referee. This is not a right under law and the permission can be withdrawn if it is abused.
Urban Myth No 3..............Busted!