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Rugby is a game played on the edge of violence, so discipline and respect for the referee is all important if a lot of potentially serious injuries are to be avoided. Central to that is obviously the quality and impartiality of the refereeing, and so Jaco rather let the side down posing with the Welsh fans having (rightly) sent of a French player, thereby more or less determining the outcome. I doubt he will get to referee another match in this competition and he was not considered for the Semi-final matches.

Having Television match officials (TMOs) and slow-mo action replays has improved the quality of refereeing greatly, and deliberate foul play has been greatly reduced and is severely punished when spotted. That said, there have been a lot of refereeing mistakes which have determined or greatly influenced the outcome of matches.

English referee Wayne Barnes - generally a much improved referee - committed a few howlers in the Japan South Africa match firstly by not sending off "the Beast" Tendai Mtawarira, then not yellow carding a Japanese player, and finally disallowing a legitimate South African try, all without consulting with the TMO. Japan were well beaten in the end, but had the Beast been sent off the result might have been different. He won't be popular in Japan.

Ireland also suffered at the hands of the referee in the Japan match, but can have no complaints about the refereeing of Nigel Owens for their defeat against the All Blacks. In my view he is the best referee in the world and recently made history by coming out as gay in what is still largely a male macho world, even though that has been changing much for the better.

Referees are human and can make honest mistakes but it is critical that they are impartial, are respected and communicate well with the players. Rugby can degenerate into a mêlée without that.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 12:54:18 PM EST
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