Billiards Ref Rees Makes Right Call
Referee Nigel Rees was adamant that his hugely-controversial decision in the Daryl Peach v Francisco Bustamante billiard match was the right one. Bustamante thought he had won the quarter-final when the 9-ball dropped into the pocket with the score at 10-9 in his favor.
But Rees immediately asked for the decision to be reviewed as he thought Bustamante had hit the 9-ball first, instead of the 3-ball he was originally aiming for.
Slow-motion television pictures showed the official was correct and that the cue-ball had brushed the 9-ball before contacting the 3-ball and then sending the 9-ball into the pocket.
However, Bustamante refused to accept the decision and World Pool Association Sports Director Thomas Overbeck was called in to adjudicate.
After another lengthy stoppage a foul shot was called and Peach held his nerve under intense pressure to make it 10-10 before running out the final rack to seal a dramatic 11-10 victory.
Rees said: Bustamante was playing a kick-shot off the rail. It was for the 3-ball and the nine was right next to it so my eyes were on these two balls.
My gut reaction was thinking that it was a foul but we had the benefit of a (television) replay. We went to the replay for quite a while.
I looked at it with the Tournament Director and Head Referee. It was a foul and it just connected with the nine ahead of the three.
It was a tough call to make and the fans were behind Bustamante and he is a great person.
But they are the rules and you have to make the right call. Whoever made that shot, that’s the call I would’ve made.
Thomas Overbeck, the WPA Sports Director, senior rules official at the 2007 Philippines World Pool Championship, fully supported the decision taken by Rees.
He took the call and I think he made the correct call. If I would’ve had to make the call I would’ve made the same one. Everything was done correctly to the rules.
The ruling is that the ref must make a decision before the next shot is made. An opponent can always ask for a referee for a reconsideration if it was a foul.
The problem was the 9-ball went in and they thought the match was over. At the time I heard someone say ‘foul’ I don’t know if it was from Nigel, the crowd or the opponent.
Nigel straight away said ‘I have to check it out’ and the correct procedure was followed.
It wasn’t like the game was over for five minutes, he immediately said ‘I have to investigate’.
The rules say a referee of a pool match can make a decision by any means possible. If there is television replays then we can use it.
Nigel told me that his initial feeling was that it was a foul. He is a very respected referee.
Bustamante did not address the situation with me. I think he knows he hit the 9-ball first. He asked me if Nigel reacted accordingly to the rules and I said ‘yes he did’.