Saracens coach Brendan Venter was left waiting to find out what punishment he would receive from the Rugby Football Union (RFU) after a disciplinary panel reserved its judgement until Wednesday.
The former Springbok centre appeared before a hearing in London on Tuesday charged with “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game” after criticising referee David Rose following Saracens’ 22-15 English Premiership defeat by Leicester at Welford Road on January 2.
Venter is accused of questioning Rose’s integrity by saying the official had been a different referee in the second half.
The South African’s remarks received wide publicity, partly because he broadened his comments to slam the standard of officiating in the Premiership in general, which he blamed for a lack of tries this season.
Venter said: “There is a problem and that is the game is determined by referees and not by teams.”
Some said Venter’s remarks would have had more force if they had not been made on the back of a defeat.
But he also won backing for drawing attention to the confusion surrounding what players can and cannot do at the breakdown area.
After the Leicester match, Venter said: “The penalty count in the first half was 9-3 to Sarries. The penalty count in the second half was 10-4 to Leicester.
“We asked the referee to keep everything the same in the second half. Something happened to this poor referee and there was basically a 12-penalty swing.
“There was one referee in the first half, he walked through a maze or something, and he came out another referee.
“This is a professional game and this is a problem. I don’t think referees are dishonest, we just do not have the ability to stay objective.”
Venter has been charged specifically due to comments he made during the course of a BBC radio interview, in which he said: “I think the referee was influenced at half-time, and that’s all I can think.
“All I know is something happened at half-time, the game changed.”
Venter faces a heavy fine and a touchline ban if the charges against him are upheld. — AFP