World Rugby criticises standard of refereeing at Japan 2019

World Rugby has issued an extraordinary statement that criticises the performance of 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, with his hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

In the same game, Levani Botia was sin-binned for killing the ball even though Wallabies captain Michael Hooper had entered the ruck from the side during the build-up to the yellow card.

Referee Ben O’Keeffe
Referee Ben O’Keeffe was in charge of Australia’s World Cup clash with Fiji (David Davies/PA)

The breakdown has frequently been chaotic, creating plenty of debate, while there has been criticism from pundits over the inconsistent way the off-side line has been enforced.

Despite only being one round into Japan 2019, World Rugby has revealed that officials are disappointed by the quality of their work.

“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 statement read.

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

Always good to play 'What if'.

What if it was Fijian Peceli Yato who was tackler instead of the tackled? pic.twitter.com/4VzICWXBH2

— Daniel Leo (@danleo82) September 21, 2019

“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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