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11th Sep 2023

Welsh and Irish legends criticise officials’ handling of high tackle in South Africa win


‘It wasn’t even highlighted’

Rob Kearney has heavily criticised Angus Gardner and his team of officials for their performance in the first half of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup Pool B clash with Scotland.

Despite a number of flash-points, the Australian referee kept his cards in his pocket throughout, much to the frustration of the former Ireland full back turned Virgin Media pundit.

Predictably, neither South Africa nor Scotland were content to take backward steps in that first half but, as a side-effect to this, some players over-stepped the mark.

South African centre Jesse Kriel did just that but luckily for him, Gardner and his team of officials were in a lenient mood.

“The most alarming one is that first one (from Kriel),” said Kearney on Virgin Media.

“The ref has got two wrong and the TMO has got one very badly wrong.

“Jesse Kriel, up and in, that’s a red card all day long for me. And it wasn’t even highlighted.

“We see another one here, from Finn Russell, that, for me, is a deliberate knock-on and should be a yellow card.

“And this is also a yellow card (a late tackle from Russell). He’s tucked his shoulder, no attempt to wrap, that is, I’d go as far as saying a cheap shot, post whistle, so a yellow card.

“So in one half of rugby, I think the officials have missed a red card and two yellows,” added Kearney.

Andrew Trimble agreed with his former Ireland team-mate, and wondered why the TMO didn’t pick up on these collisions.

“The most disappointing part of this, is that the Jesse Kriel one didn’t even get picked up,” said the former Ireland winger.

“You’d wonder what was going on. Was he at the toilet at the time, the TMO?”

Kearney worries that inconsistencies like this – Tom Curry was red carded for a similar collision to Kriel’s on Saturday night – will damage the game.

“When I look at the future of rugby, and the growth of the game on a global level, one thing I look at is head injuries. And the second one is the consistency of refereeing decisions, for the fans and the viewer. Will they remain engaged with it if they can’t keep up with it? This is disappointing,” he said.

On commentary, former Italy and Leinster out-half Ian McKinley also criticised the inconsistency of the refereeing, in a match that South Africa went onto win 18-3/

“The fact that it wasn’t even notified by the TMO…I mean that’s the most frustrating thing is that lack of consistency. Because you compare it to the Tom Curry one, and it could have huge implications,” says Ian McKinley.