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'Very, very poor' - Former Scotland coach slams performance of English refs in Champions Cup

By Josh Raisey
Press Association

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Former Scotland coach Matt Williams has not held back when criticising the “over-officious” performance of the English referees in the Heineken Champions Cup final.


Speaking to Virgin Media Sport after Toulouse’s victory over La Rochelle on Saturday, Williams slammed the performance of referee Luke Pearce, his assistant referees Wayne Barnes and Matthew Carley, and television match official Tom Foley.

In a hectic first half, where La Rochelle centre Levani Botia was rightfully sent off for a dangerous tackle, the Australian also accused Pearce of losing control.

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“The English referees in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals have been very, very poor- over-officious,” Williams said.

“I’ll give you an example, the 68th minute, when [Gregory] Alldritt was penalised for being off his feet at a ruck, they could have pulled that penalty out 65 times in that game, and they pulled it out once. It’s the inconsistency of that.

“The refereeing of the scrums, we just saw so much of the English referees, so much of them talking to TMOs, it really got out of control.

“I thought the second half, Luke Pearce did better. I thought he’d lost control in the first half. It was so mad, and he found it difficult to keep up with it. But it did get better in the second half, I think that’s because the players actually played a bit of rugby, and started to get tired.


“Our officiating at the top level is having such an impact on the game, and slowing the game. We’re seeing far too much of referees, and not enough of our great athletes. That has to change. World Rugby has to act on this. It’s not just here, it’s all around the world. We saw it up close in the quarters, the semis, and finals.

“In particular, the English referees are way, way over officious, and they don’t have a great feel for the game. That’s why we got the sort of game we had today.”

Former Italy international Ian McKinley also picked up on the speed of the match as an area of concern.

“It was 52 minutes that first half went,” McKinley said.


“So from a player’s point of view you want a quick game, you don’t want stop-start.

“In terms of Luke Pearce, Wayne Barnes seemed to be reffing that game a bit more than he did. As a player, if you see the touch judge or TMO is reffing it more than the main man in the middle, you might question his authority.”


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