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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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'I'm changing my tune on refs, I got offered a gig to become TMO'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ex-England international Andy Goode has claimed that referees should be centrally contracted by World Rugby after he socialised with a group of officials while attending last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals in Marseille as a European rugby ambassador. The pundit also alleged that he was offered a role as a TMO by EPCR referees boss Tony Spreadbury. 

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Goode was flown to France to mingle with the fans on behalf of the organisers of the European tournaments but away from those duties, he fell into the company of the referees that were also in Marseille for the games. The former out-half has been in the habit of rinsing referees on The Rugby Pod, the show he co-hosts with ex-Scotland lock Jim Hamilton. 

However, a few Heinekens with the likes of Andy Brace and even a drink with Mike Adamson, an official that Goode has especially been critical of, has changed his viewpoint on referees and he explained why on this week’s show. “Unbelievable weekend,” he enthused despite his throat feeling like he had swallowed a packet of razor blades. 

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“Started on Friday as a European rugby ambassador so hosted a few Q&As with Sean O’Brien… I got to bed about three on Friday genuinely because we had to work all day Saturday as well. We got down to the fan zone and sweated it out. It was about 32 degrees and the Heineken from the night before was coming out of my pores and I’d not eaten any breakfast. 

“We get to the ground and I’m interviewing Emile Ntamack in French. God knows what he was saying but I had written out some questions in French and asked him a few of them. And I have got to have a massive shout out for a few people – I ended up drinking with a lot of the referees. 

Saturday at the (La Rochelle versus Leinster) game, the Friday night referees Luke Pearce, gorgeous Frank Murphy, Andrew Brace and Ian Tempest, those boys were just on the piss at the game and I did end up having a beer with Mike Adamson. Andrew Brace, a legend of a bloke. Frank Murphy claimed he has not had his hair or his teeth done. They’re all good blokes. I am changing my tune on the referees. Not the French ones because they are shocking. 

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“Luke Pearce was there as well. Barnsey (Wayne Barnes). He was the only one to bring his wife. Polly is definitely the boss. But I am going to give a shout out to referees. They are undervalued, they might be underpaid. They go through a hell of a lot. They are away from home for a ridiculous amount of time. 

“We only judge a referee on a weekend on his performance, what about the breakdown, what about his decision? They are away a s*** load from home, they have a really tough gig. I don’t think they are remunerated enough. I think they deserve to be centrally contracted by World Rugby. 

“I think I got the job for TMO,” continued Goode. “I got offered a gig on Saturday to become a TMO. I don’t know whether it was serious because there were probably about 25 Heinekens drank responsibly by then. Tony Spreadbury, who is head of referees for European rugby, he was there. I think the lads want it. 

“I said the biscuit tin would get absolutely hammered so the expenses for biscuits would go through the roof but I genuinely think speaking to them over the weekend they are undervalued. They understand they have got to take the rough with the smooth so we have got to give them a bit of stick if they get things wrong.

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“They expect that but they need to be centrally contracted by World Rugby and given license to improve themselves although they did say they are off to Dubai on a bit of a jolly next week for fitness testing… Good boys all of them actually, even Mike Adamson.”

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