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Referees taking back control is a good thing for rugby | WEDNESDAY NIGHT RUGBY

The fact that referees are taking a harder line on players complaining is a good thing for rugby and harkens back to the old days.

The fact that referees are taking a harder line on players shouting and complaining is a good thing for rugby and harkens back to the old days, according to Keith Wood and Fiona Hayes.

The opening round of the Investec Champions Cup saw a host of great matches, and some terrible weather thrown in as well, however one of the most noticeable takeaways from the weekend was how referees have started taking back control on the pitch.

Perhaps most noticeable in Leinster's massive win over La Rochelle away, there appears to be a mandate sent to European referees to not allow players, or captains, to complain or try to influence the referees throughout the game.

In Sunday's clash, Matthew Carley was constantly at odds with Leinster co-captain James Ryan as well as La Rochelle's Pierre Bourgarit, but was not taking any of their complaints to heart.

For Munster and Ireland legend Keith Wood, the new control that referees are seemingly taking over the game is a good thing.

Referees taking back control

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Wood expressed how happy he is to see referees going back to the old days and penalising teams that do not conduct themselves in a respectful manner towards the match officials.

"[Peirre] Bourgarit lost it in the game," Wood said. "He was complaining with the referee. Actually, so were Leinster for a lot of it, and so were Munster.

"The referees have now gone for a bit of a throwback to the old days, where the only person who could talk to you, and has to talk to you in a  respectful manner, is the captain. I think that's the right way it should be.

"You can't have people looking for cards. You can't have people roaring and shouting. You can't have players running up to the referee.

"The referee, I actually think, nearly lost it himself because neither of the teams seemed to do it. The managements of the teams have to make certain that this is solved now. The players have to quieten down an awful lot at the moment."

"I'm hoping the referees back it up," Wood added. "I've noticed it over the last two or three weekends in particular, it's become far more vocal from the referee's side.

"This is what they're looking for, and if that's part of what the game is looking at, the coaches have to rectify that. They have to be able to say, 'it's not worth it for us'."

Carley was right to shun Ryan

One of the most controversial incidents involving the captains and the referee between La Rochelle and Leinster was when Matthew Carley refused to speak to Leinster co-captain James Ryan, instead favouring Garry Ringrose.

The incident came after Ryan incessantly insisted that Carley have a second or third look at a potential foul which saw Hugo Keenan taken out in the air and flip head over heels mid-air.

Ryan assumed that it was Levani Botia, the La Rochelle number eight, that had taken out his teammate, when in fact it was Ryan Baird that caused the fullback to land close to his neck in mid air.

Following the incident, Carley called Ringrose over to explain to him why he would no longer be interacting with Ryan, citing too much chat from every penalty conceded.

Joining Wood on Wednesday Night Rugby, former Munster and Ireland front rower Fiona Hayes said this was the right call from Carley, and that Ryan needs to work on his communication.

"I think it was the correct decision to make," Hayes said. "If he feels like he's not being spoken to correctly, I think it's a good decision, and to have the option there of Ringrose to only deal with him.

"To be fair to Ryan, I think he left it after that. That's something he'll have to learn. We talk about future captains for Ireland in particular, and he's someone that will definitely spring into mind.

"But, if you're kind of getting on the wrong side of the referee with your language in particular and your reactions, that's something you definitely have to look at going forward.

"I'd have no issues whatsoever with a referee marching [my team] 50 meters up a pitch if they're constantly mouthing back. I saw the start of that game, James Ryan, it was constant at every single breakdown. That's exceptionally frustrating."

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