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'It's frightening that the same official is doing England v Wales'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto)

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Scottish referee Mike Adamson ignited a social media inferno over his controversial handling of Friday night’s Heineken Champions Cup match between Harlequins and Castres, fuelling fears that he could be found wanting when he referees next month’s Guinness Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham on February 26.

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Castres lost out 36-33 at The Stoop, Alex Dombrandt’s try with the clock heavily in the red proving decisive in clinching the Gallagher Premiership champions the win that saw them finish second in Pool B of the Champions Cup and eliminate their French visitors in the process.

Adamson initially gave an on-field decision of ‘no try’ but he eventually awarded the score even though the video evidence that was reviewed wasn’t one hundred per cent conclusive that a try had definitely been scored. 

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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – A Lion and a Wasp
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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – A Lion and a Wasp

The review, though, wouldn’t have been necessary if the referee hadn’t made some glaring errors in the preceding minutes during the build-up, such as incorrectly awarding a penalty against Castres when they appeared to have won a legitimate breakdown turnover while there were other incidents such as a forward pass getting missed.   

It capped an unconvincing performance that was heavily criticised on Twitter and led to accusations that Adamson – whose red-carding of Munster’s Simon Zebo in another match earlier this month was deemed to be incorrect and subsequently overturned by a disciplinary hearing committee – will be out of his depth next month refereeing at Test level.  

It was last year when the official took charge of England’s win over Italy, an appointment that was the first time since 2002 that a referee from Scotland had taken charge of a Six Nations match. Adamson is now one of only two referees – the other is South Africa’s Jaco Peyper – who have been given two games to referee in the 2022 Six Nations, the Scot taking charge of England versus Wales in London 20 days after starting with France versus Italy in Paris on February 6.  

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After what unfolded at Harlequins, though, there are questions surrounding the capabilities of the ex-Scotland 7s player on the whistle. Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times rugby correspondent, tweeted: “Referee for Quins v Castres was alarmingly poor, Castres may as well not have bothered coming. 

“It is frightening that the same official, Mike Adamson, is doing England v Wales. AND France v Italy. How can that be when Wayne Barnes only has one game?”

Ex-England out-half Andy Goode posted: “Got to feel for Castres, some horrific decisions have gone against them there”, a take on the refereeing performance that drew a response from Eddie O’Sullivan, the former Ireland coach.

“Keep in mind the shocking forward pass in the lead up to the 1st Pen. People wonder why coaches get so upset with referees. Most frustrating part is there are zero consequences for Mike Adamson. He is promoted to the 6 Nations despite his performance.”

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