Ref Review: Steve Walsh Reclaims Life, Refs Super 15 Final

Things looking up for Walsh
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Cody Kuxmann lives in Richmond Upon Thames but hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is a Referee at the London Society Of Rugby Football Union Referees and studies International Relations at Richmond, The American International University in London. He officiates Rugby Union and Rugby League.

WAIKATO, NZ – Now that the Waikato Chiefs have secured their Super 15 Championship over the defiant Durban Sharks, we can get back to our business of analyzing the officiating.  In the Super 15 Final, Steve Walsh was at the helm.

Things looking up for Walsh

Perhaps one of the most genuine referees I’ve met, Walsh has refereed for two different unions after some troubles. The New Zealand Rugby Union terminated his contract in April 2009 because of drinking-related incidents. The most notable of which being when he showed up to a SANZAR referees’ meeting still drunk from the previous night. He’s quick to admit his mistakes, though, and has rebuilt his life and career after hitting rock bottom. That’s fortunate for Steve and we’re lucky to have him back – Walsh has a unique perspective on things and interesting things to say. Indeed, the tattoo on the inside of his forearm reads,

“He who controls  himself, controls the game.”

It’s good to see Mr. Walsh doing just that.

Now onto the game.  It was a one-sided game dominated by the Chiefs. Both teams were quick to the breakdown, but the speed that the Chiefs were able to maintain was just better. Throughout the game, we saw a load of kicking. What really amazed me, though, was the amount of breakdown speed that the Chiefs had. They were able to turn the ball over constantly.

Now for Steve Walsh.  I was particularly impressed with his management of the breakdown.  He was able to get compliance when he needed and was consistent with how he ref’d it.  He was able to clean up any nonsense fairly quickly (the holding by the Chiefs), which was great to see.

Walsh with Chiefs’ co-captain, Liam Messam

However, the one thing that got me was his lack of being at the play.  He appeared to be going at a slow pace.  Granted, the pace of this game was very quick, but he seemed to just be giving the minimum. That said, I can’t say that he missed any calls because of this and that’s exactly what we want to see!

As for any missed calls, one issue does stick out;  a hit on Ryan Kankowski by the Chief’s Ben Tameifuna.  The tackle had a wrap that came fairly late, was particularly high and made connection to the head.  It was a hit that should have been penalized straight away with at least a Yellow card.  It has been subsequently cited, with the citing commissioner determining that it reached the Red card threshold. Tameifuna has been given a one-week ban and will miss a warm-up ITM Cup match.

While the Kankowski clan may have a different view, I say Steve Walsh had a very good performance… and I am looking forward to seeing him in The Rugby Championship.

We’ll miss the Sharks’ cheerleaders!

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About Cody Kuxmann 60 Articles
Cody Kuxmann is a Referee at London Society Of Rugby Football Union deciple... When not sending innocents to the Sin Bin, The American International University in London grad splits time between England and... Green Bay, WI! And like all referees, is Blind, Deaf and Dumb.