Wednesday 23 October 2019

World Rugby release extraordinary statement criticising performance of its referees at World Cup

Match officials Ben O'Keeffe and Luke Pearce look at the big screen
Match officials Ben O'Keeffe and Luke Pearce look at the big screen

PA Sport

World Rugby has issued an extraordinary statement criticising the performance of its referees at the World Cup after only eight games.

The highest-profile blunder has been Ben O'Keeffe's failure to punish Australia wing Reece Hodge for a shoulder-led, no-arms tackle to the head of Fiji's Peceli Yato in Sapporo on Saturday. Yato subsequently failed a head injury assessment and Hodge has since been cited.

In Friday's tournament opener, meanwhile, Japan lock James Moore escaped sanction for a no-arms tackle.

"Following the usual review of matches, the match officials team recognise that performances over the opening weekend were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves," the World Rugby statement read.

The statement continued: "But World Rugby is confident of the highest standards of officiating moving forward.

"Elite match officials are required to make decisions in complex, high-pressure situations and there have been initial challenges with the use of technology and team communication, which have impacted decision-making.

"These are already being addressed by the team of 23 match officials to enhance consistency.

"Given this proactive approach, a strong team ethic and a superb support structure, World Rugby has every confidence in the team to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2019 delivers the highest levels of accurate, clear and consistent decision-making."

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