RWC Quarterfinals referee selection should not influence outcome

RWC Quarterfinals referee selection should not influence outcome
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The eight sides who have progressed to the knockout stages should be confident that the RWC Quarterfinals referee selection should not influence any outcome.

Hardly surprising you might say, in the well-managed environment of the Rugby World Cup. Little is left to chance by World Rugby – and that includes the nominations for referees, assistants and the Television Match Official (TMO).

And it should not do either. RWC Quarterfinals referee selection should play no influence on any of the four matches outcomes. It is the public perception; the association between high profile officials and teams’ histories with those four referees, that usually becomes the hot topic of discussion.

RWC Quarterfinals referee selection should not influence outcome

Reading the media statement from World Rugby, their intention is to make the selections on merit; by World Rugby’s match officials selection committee.

  • Jérôme Garcès (France) – England v Australia
  • Nigel Owens (Wales) – New Zealand v Ireland
  • Jaco Peyper (South Africa) – Wales v France
  • Wayne Barnes (England) – Japan v South Africa

World Rugby stated, ‘While match official performance will undoubtedly be in the spotlight at a time when World Rugby and the global rugby community continues to encourage behaviour change for high-risk tackles, clear, consistent and accurate decision-making characterized the pool phase performances’.

And so it should. The choices were quite simple, but the position and the assigned match is where interpretation – yes, that horrid word – and past interactions develop a conversation. Indeed, the news reports and headlines have already spoken of Northern Hemisphere calls being made on Southern Hemisphere teams; and more!

IfRWC Quarterfinals referee selection does come into it, then it will be more by the hands of the players. This is due to actions, behaviour, and the team’s attitudes to laws and to the recent messages on infringements and player welfare.

It will certainly not be down to a referee bias, a call against the trend of recent pool games, and/or the inference of one-sided rulings. That just should not occur at this elite level.

Should not or, Will Not? Up to Official

Should not, and will not, are two different intentions. You should enjoy a beer at the Stadium, but….if it is warm or stale, then you will not. Team sport is the same [similar]. How the arbitrator or referee, in this case, judges the laws/rules, can influence the result.

Not to say Wayne Barnes or Jaco Peyper will. It is just that man is fallible. The view or blow of the whistle can come one second too early, or one second too late. The difference between a short-arm penalty, and a double-blow of the whistle to involve the TMO can be centimeters.

Take the infamous Brian O’Driscol incident in the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour match. Modern examination of the sport would see either an assistant referee enforce the law or, the TMO would suggest that they look at it. The laws are better designed for re-examination. Even the technology is today. So in the modern day, that would be investigated more thoroughly on-field.

But in any game, a missed call can be interpreted as favouritism. Not that it ‘is’ but the perception is of bias. So if Conor Murray can get his hands in the back of the scrum, and it is called a knock-on (and not re-examined by the officials) that must not be seen as trying to influence a game. It is just part of it – and has happened for many years.

What is clear is that, all four men are ‘the best in their game’. They are often in charge of Champions Cup, Super Rugby, French Top 14 and other Tier One competition knockout matches. So  RWC Quarterfinals referee selection is not only based on the roud robin play, but on experience.

And that is a quality that all eight teams will; and have, acknowledged.


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