By Luke Kirkness, NZ Herald

The standard of refereeing at the Rugby World Cup has been “pretty poor”, says assistant coach of Japan, Tony Brown.

Referee decisions had been lambasted from the outset of the tournament, most recently following Wales’ victory over Australia last night.

Speaking to Martin Devlin on Newstalk ZB over the weekend, Brown, a former All Black, said he had been disappointed by the officiating.

“It’s been pretty poor so far, I think, rightly so, the criticism was deserved. We’ll see what happens from here.

“You just want them to make the right decisions and referee well and to be consistent around the head-high tackle.

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“Now, because they’ve got it so wrong in the first couple of weeks you worry that they’re going to go the other way.”

Wallabies winger Reece Hodge missed last night’s match and will miss another two after he was found guilty of a dangerous tackle charge.

A judicial hearing deemed he met the high tackle sanction threshold when he collided with Fiji forward Peceli Yato in their opening World Cup match.

Meanwhile, two Samoan players were also handed down three-match bans following dangerous tackles they made against Russia on Tuesday.

Hodge deserved a yellow card but wasn’t given one, while Manu Samoa’s Rey Lee-Lo deserved a red card instead of a yellow, Brown said.

“That was a brutal tackle,” he told Devlin. “The [Russian] fullback, they say he ducked, he didn’t duck, he was preparing to be hit in the head.”

Brown hoped the remainder of the World Cup would continue as it had started, with referees remaining consistent around their head-high tackle decisions.

Following their loss to Wales, Australian pundits lashed out at the performance of French referee Romain Poite.

Just before the halftime break, Welsh halfback Gareth Davies scored an intercept try, giving Wales a 23-8 lead.

The try would prove pivotal in the end, with Wales claiming a four-point victory.

Media across the ditch claimed Davies was offside, with an image doing the rounds which they believed showed him in an illegal position.

Former Wallabies hooker Phil Kearns said the decision not to check the try was a “game-changing moment”.

“The whole refereeing display has been disgraceful, not only by Romain Poite but by Skeen as well,” Kearns said on Fox Sports.

Another former Wallabies player jumped on board, labelling Poite’s decision not to check the try as “shocking”.

“If you’re going to waste five minutes of the game checking a ball carry, you’ve got to check for an offside,” he said.

“This is what happens when World Rugby make a weak statement after week one and say they’re not happy with the refereeing, you make referees paranoid, TMOs become paranoid and you get a 55-minute first 40 minutes.”

This article first appeared on and was republished with permission.

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