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Fans see red after Samoa escape sending-offs within hours of World Rugby refereeing statement

By Josh Raisey
Manu Samoa perform Siva Tau before 2018 Test with Georgia (Photo by Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images)

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World Rugby were praised on Tuesday for releasing a statement saying the standard of refereeing so far this World Cup has not been at the standard expected. 


Certain instances over the first four days of the tournament have led to widespread censure of the officiating and perhaps required World Rugby to take action. 

However, mere hours after the statement, referee Romain Poite caused more controversy by awarding Samoa two yellow cards for two tackles against Russia that have been unanimously deemed red cards by pundits and fans. 

Outside centre Rey Lee-Lo was on the verge of being awarded a red card in the first half by Poite for a tackle to the head of Russia’s full-back Vasily Artemyev. However, the television match official downgraded it to a yellow card because the offence was mitigated by the full-back dipping into the tackle. 

Only a matter of minutes later, hooker Motu Matu’u saw a yellow card as well for a hit at the ruck which was worse than Lee-Lo’s. Once again, the player that was hit was deemed to have dipped, although that is much more controversial as the player had already dipped as Matu’u was running to hit him. 

(Continue reading below…)

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The game seemed to become farcical at this point, and fans on Twitter were outraged that there was not at least one red card from those two challenges. Although Poite was set to award a red card for the first tackle, the excuse that the players may have been dipping does not seem to be acceptable for many fans. 

This would have always been controversial given how bad the tackles were, but the timing is almost risible, as this was the first game after World Rugby’s statement and it will only draw more attention to the officials. This is what has been said: 


Samoa ran out winners 34-9 in the end, despite Russia leading 6-5 at half-time, but it could have been a completely different story had they been down to 13 men during the second half, particularly with Lee-Lo scoring a try. 

The officiating has been one of the key topics of the RWC so far and this game will only add fuel to the fire. 

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