England react to referee Raynal's emergency All Blacks appointment
England have reacted to the development on Tuesday that Mathieu Raynal, not Nic Berry, will be the referee in charge of this Saturday’s glamour Twickenham fixture versus the All Blacks. The Australian referee, who was at the heart of the 62-minute video critique that last year culminated in Rassie Erasmus’ lengthy ban, had last month been chosen by the World Rugby referees department to be on the whistle when Eddie Jones’ team hosts Ian Foster’s New Zealand.
However, that appointment was scratched on Tuesday when it was confirmed that Berry was now unavailable for personal reasons and that Raynal, who had been pencilled in to be in charge of this Saturday’s Romania-Samoa game in Bucharest, would instead be refereeing in London.
It’s the second successive sudden call-up for Raynal as he was also appointed as the emergency referee for last Saturday’s Ireland versus Fiji match in Dublin after Jaco Peyper reported an injury.
The low key November 19 match in Bucharest was the only game Raynal has been appointed the referee for when World Rugby released its original list of appointments for 40 matches across the Autumn Nations Series Test programme, suggesting he has fallen down the pecking order following his controversial time-wasting penalty against Australia in September.
Raynal had penalised Australia’s Bernard Foley when he had a penalty that he was readying to kick into touch with time almost up against the All Blacks at the Marvel Stadium. The hotly debated call handed the All Blacks possession and they soon scored to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, igniting arguments around the rugby world over whether Raynal was correct to be so strict about what he had done.
With Raynal having now replaced Berry for this Saturday’s match at Twickenham, what had England made of the refereeing switch? “Looking at that Australia-New Zealand situation, what it is is a lesson to players,” reckoned Anthony Seibold, Eddie Jones’ defence coach who will leave at the end of this month to take up the head coach role at Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL. “We have not spoken about it with the playing group but it is a lesson to players all around the world, referees want continuity.
“Rugby union is a game where it is a contest versus a continuity game. Obviously, at each ruck, there is a contest, when the ball is in the air there is a contest but in between that supporters and referees, they want continuity so I get the lesson that was learned out of that [the Raynal decision in Melbourne]
“We have spoken about that previously as a coaching staff. When that happened it was before one of our coaches’ meetings so we spoke about, ‘Okay, well how can we prepare the players?’ If you guys [the media] have come down to training you would have seen we train with a lot of great intensity, with not much coach talking between the different drills.
“So I feel as though we prepare the players regardless, that we want continuity but also to be really prudent with the contest part of the game as well. It [the Raynal appointment] won’t make any difference to how we play but it is a good lesson to all players that if you deliberately stop the game, then there are obviously consequences at different times.”
Raynal last took charge of an England match eight months ago and his decision to red card Charlie Ewels after 82 seconds was a massive talking point after Ireland came away with the Guinness Six Nations win.
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