Australia raises refereeing concerns with World Rugby

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Rugby Australia has written to the sport’s global governing body to reiterate concerns about refereeing after the Rugby Championship test against New Zealand in Melbourne was tarnished by a contentious time-wasting decision.

French referee Mathieu Raynal penalised Bernard Foley for holding up the game at Docklands last Thursday as the flyhalf prepared to kick the ball to touch from the Wallabies’ 22 with a minute left in the test.

With New Zealand awarded a five-metre scrum in front of the posts, Jordie Barrett scored a try after the siren to snatch a 39-37 victory for the All Blacks.

Raynal’s decision, virtually unseen in elite rugby, was criticised by Australia coach Dave Rennie as well as pundits across the globe.

A Rugby Australia spokesperson on Monday confirmed it had urged World Rugby to take concerns about officiating in general seriously.

“It’s not unusual, we’ve been lobbying World Rugby for some time on this,” the spokesperson said.

Elite rugby has become dominated by officials in recent years, with the increased use of the Television Match Official (TMO) to spot infringements making for more stop-start games.

A lower threshold for yellow and red cards to improve safety has also had a major impact on the flow as the TMO and referee halt action several times every game, often spending minutes to weigh video footage of incidents before decisions.

Australia is not alone in expressing concerns about the state of the game.

England coach Eddie Jones said in July he would push for change, having become fed up with officiating delays and the ‘incessant’ use of the TMO.

The Melbourne loss saw Australia surrender the Bledisloe Cup, the trans-Tasman trophy contested annually with New Zealand, for a 20th successive year.

Though Australia felt hard done by after Raynal’s time-wasting call, a couple of Foley’s backline team mates sensed the urgency, waving and shouting at him to kick the ball even as the team’s forwards remained huddled near the goal-line.  (Reuters)