Super Rugby Aotearoa: Refs not to blame for breakdown penalties - Perenara

Hurricanes skipper TJ Perenara insists players and coaches must look at themselves, before blaming referees for the massive penalty counts so far in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Over the opening two rounds of the revamped NZ-only competition, new breakdown interpretations have bemused teams into constant infringement, leading to some frustrating stop-start contests.

After drawing the bye in last week's opening round, the Crusaders were the latest confounded by the rules, allowing the Hurricanes to stay in the contest, before drawing away over the closing stages of a 39-25 victory on Sunday afternoon.

The three-time defending champions outscored their hosts five tries to one, but their inability to stay out of trouble at the breakdown allowed Hurricanes first-five Jackson Garden-Bachop to slot five penalties to keep the score close and even draw level with less than 20 minutes remaining.

The Crusaders lost second-five Jack Goodhue to the sin bin for 10 minutes, after referee Brendon Pickerill finally lost his patience with their offending. Pickerill eventually blew 27 penalties, most against the southerners.

But Perenara has absolved the officials from blame.

"It is what it is," he said afterwards. "The refs come under a lot of fire for it, but to be fair, they're learning this as well.

"It's a new focus point for them, so it's on us as players and organisations to make sure we adapt better. If it's a clear focus for the referees that that's what they're going to do, that's not their fault - we need to be better at it.

"I thought it wasn't too bad today, to be fair."

That's probably because the Hurricanes had already experienced the new requirements in their loss to the Blues last Sunday and had an entire week to make those adjustments.

The Crusaders weren't so lucky.

"We had all the best intentions around the rules," chuckled coach Scott Robertson, over a penalty count that quickly ballooned out to 9-1.

"We thought we were going to be incredible in that first half and set the pace worldwide.

"It was definitely left on the training ground for a while, but I was really pleased with the experience of the group and the trust we showed came through at the end."

The Crusaders now have another week to get their heads around the rules, before taking on the Chiefs in Christchurch next Sunday.

Join us for live updates of Super Rugby Aotearoa games next weekend.

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Refs not to blame for breakdown penalties - Perenara