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Luke Pearce shares thoughts about airport attack on Anthony Taylor

By Liam Heagney
Luke Pearce (centre) at last Saturday's Gallagher Premiership final coin toss (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Rugby World Cup 2023 referee Luke Pearce has commented on Thursday’s incident which saw football referee Anthony Taylor and his family attacked by disgruntled Roma fans at the airport in Budapest. The football referee was in charge of Wednesday night’s Europa League final featuring the Italian club and Spanish side Sevilla.

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The trophy eventually went to Sevilla following a penalty shootout and the aftermath resulted in Taylor being verbally accosted by Roma manager Jose Mourinho in an underground car park at the stadium.

This attack then had a sequel at the local airport when Taylor and his family were walking through the terminal, and it led to them being ushered into a room by police for their own safety.

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A video of the distressing incident – which included a chair being thrown – has been widely circulated on social media and rugby referee Pearce, who last Saturday took charge of the first Gallagher Premiership rugby final of his career, has now shared his thoughts on the unsavoury treatment of Taylor.

I’m not sure what’s worse,” he began. “The actions or the comments to the video. Regardless of your job, surely you should be allowed to travel peacefully with your family? What is happening in the world?”

Pearce is one of 12 referees chosen by World Rugby to take charge of the 48 matches at the Rugby World Cup in France. The English official will begin his build-up to the finals by taking charge of the July 29 game in Montevideo featuring Uruguay and Chile, two of the minnow nation qualifiers, and the following Saturday he will be in charge of Uruguay and Namibia, another minnow qualifier.

He will finish his preparations with the Italy versus Romania and France against Australia games. That latter fixture takes place in Paris just 12 days before the French host the All Blacks on September 8 in the opening game of the World Cup.

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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