In a World Cup – any World Cup – fans could be forgiven for expecting to see the very best of the best on show. The best players, the best coaches and, dare we say it, the best officials. But World Rugby appears to have settled for following the lyrics of an old Meatloaf track: Two our of three ain’t bad.
Hardly a day has gone by in Rugby World Cup 2019 that hasn’t seen at least one new refereeing controversy. Without detailing every single error in every game [We'd need a book for that – Ed], we have extracted a few “highlights” that had us either laughing out loud or shaking our heads in exasperation.
Consider the Wales vs Fiji match earlier this week. The clown with the whistle was Jérôme Garcès and, in this game, he consistently ignored Welsh players going off their feet in mauls while penalising Fijians for the exact same thing.
It’s the second time Fiji has been the victim of piss-poor refereeing at this World Cup. The first was thanks to the incompetent Ben O’Keeffe when the islanders played Australia in their opening fixture. Even more ironic, Jonathan Kaplan, one of the worst South Africa ever produced, agrees, apparently.The reality is that, if World Rugby really wants to grow the game globally, something must be done about the abysmally poor of refereeing – at all levels. If that means simplifying the laws still more; empowering TMOs to overturn poor decisions; or to independently grade referee performances in every match, so be it. There’s a great piece this week by Andy Bull in The Guardian on this very subject.