‘You play it then?’ Ronnie O’Sullivan tells ref to take shot as row erupts over snooker

Ronnie O'Sullivan explains why he made a 146 in 2016

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Ronnie O’Sullivan has ignited a row among snooker fans with a surreal referee altercation during his World Championship final against Judd Trump. The ‘Rocket’ is vying to join Stephen Hendry at the top of the all-time list with seven titles, but had something of a skirmish with referee Olivier Marteel on Sunday. 

With O’Sullivan 2-1 up, he was keen to ensure that the official was aware of the position of the white ball due to being in a snooker. He thought he could catch the edge but missed, and TV replays were needed to replace it.

After replacing the ball, Marteel claimed he could see a glimmer of the red, adding: “You can flick it on the left-hand side.” O’Sullivan then drew laughter from the Crucible when he responded: “No, I can’t. You try?” before gesturing to hand over the cue.

While many of those in attendance clearly enjoyed the drama of the altercation, some fans deemed it disrespectful to Marteel and expressed sympathy. On Twitter, @bowden_vic said: “Typical Ronnie attitude… is the ref supposed to keep a micrometer in his pocket?”

Some also called for better use of technology in such instances as snooker is a game of fractions and millimetres after all. The general consensus was that the ball was placed fractions out from where it originally lay. But once the dust settled, O’Sullivan regained his composure to hit the red and go on to win the frame. 

It was not the first instance of unpredictable O’Sullivan drama in this year’s final, and it is unlikely to be the last. Earlier in the match, the ‘Rocket’ took issue with a security guard in the crowd who he believed to be moving around too much in his eyeline. 

Baffled Eurosport commentator Dave Hendon said: “He is right in his eyeline. I mean, he potted the pink, but he still wants the person … in fact, it is the security guard he is talking about! It is not actually a spectator. He is in a mean mood here isn’t he!”

O’Sullivan beat John Higgins 17-11 on Saturday to book his spot in the final. The defeated semi-finalist went on to brand the ‘Rocket’ as the greatest snooker of all time, and that he could put that title beyond doubt if he went on to beat Trump and earn a seventh crown on Sunday and Monday. 

The 46-year-old has played some of the best snooker fans have seen from him all season at the Crucible, and Hendry admitted that he senses danger regarding his position at the top of the all-time charts. “I have kind of resigned myself these last two years that it is a matter of time,” he told BBC Radio Four, “I have to be honest and say that I don’t want him to [beat Trump].”

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