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World Rugby admits ‘challenges’ with refereeing at World Cup

Australian referee Angus Gardner was one of the officials to come under fire © AFP / Behrouz MEHRI

TOKYO, Japan, Sep 24 – World Rugby criticised refereeing standards at the World Cup on Tuesday after a number of controversies in the tournament’s opening days.

The governing body said there had been “initial challenges” with the use of technology and communications between match officials at the tournament in Japan.

“Following the usual review of matches, the match officials team recognise that performances over the opening weekend of Rugby World Cup 2019 were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves,” a statement said.

“But World Rugby is confident of the highest standards of officiating moving forward.”

Several incidents have been missed by officials — and shared widely on social media — since the tournament kicked off on Friday.

Reece Hodge’s apparent high shot on Fiji’s Peceli Yato went unpunished at the time, but the Australia wing was later cited and will face a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.

Footage of All Blacks captain Kieran Read’s head-high, off-the-ball tackle on South Africa’s Pieter-Steph du Toit, unnoticed by officials, has also drawn much comment online.

And Louis Picamoles appeared clearly offside when he made a crucial interception in France’s narrow 23-21 win over Argentina, whose coach later slammed the officiating.

“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,” World Rugby said.

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“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.”

Rugby referees are able to review incidents on the field with the help of a Television Match Official (TMO), who can replay the action in slow-motion from several different angles.

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