All Blacks legend slips boot into rugby referees

All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens has doubled down on his criticism of rugby referees, stating that breakdown chaos is damaging the game as a spectacle.

Mehrtens slipped the boot into the whistleblowers in a Sydney Morning Herald column headlined 'The refs simply aren't good enough and they're letting the game down.'

That was in the wake of Friday's Reds v Rebels Super Rugby AU game that featured 32 penalties and a red card to Feao Fotuaika for a dangerous clean-out on Richard Hardwick.

Mehrtens had some sympathy for the likes of Fotuaika and said more leniency should be given at rucks to the attacking team.

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"I just think as a product our game needs to be a lot more accurate, a lot more transparent, a lot more easily understood," Mehrtens said on Stan Sport's Rugby Heaven on Tuesday night.

"And I don't think the breakdown is being refereed very well at the moment at all.

"This is just an example. I'm not picking on Hardwick because I think every player worth their salt is trying to do this.

"Because once one player gets away with it, they're all going to try and do it, to steal the ball.

"I just don't see rucks being awarded, or rucks being created, in the minds of the referees.

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"I see too many times the players are latching onto the tackled player, just in an effort to be a pain in the butt, really, and not get cleaned out.

"Then they keep the ball in there – they're not actually trying to steal the ball, they're just keeping it in, trying to milk a penalty.

"And I just think we need to clean that up, we need to have cleaner rucks, I think we need to give more leniency to the attacking team and make it more difficult for the defence and that will improve the spectacle."

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