Samoa hooker Motu Matu’u appeared before an independent judicial committee on Thursday having been cited for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous high tackle) in Samoa’s World Cup 2019 match against Russia on Tuesday.
The committee, chaired by Wang Shao Ing (Singapore lawyer and former international player) with former international players John Langford (Australia) and Olly Kohn (Wales) considered all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from the player and his representative.
The committee has reserved its judgement for a period no later than 24 hours and the panel direct that no further comment be made by any party until the decision is published.
Refereeing standards at the World Cup are under the microscope after World Rugby admitted on Tuesday that the inconsistencies of their match officials across the opening weekend of the tournament were unacceptable.
In a brief 136-word statement, the governing body stated: “The match officials team recognise that performances over the opening weekend of Rugby World Cup 2019 were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves, but World Rugby is confident of the highest standards of officiating moving forward.”
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However, this desire for the highest standards of officiating to materialise were immediately brought into question in the Russia-Samoa match when French referee Romain Poite called on his TMO Graham Hughes to help adjudicate on two instances of Samoan high tackle foul play just two minutes and 14 seconds apart in the first half in Kumagaya.
Both tackles on Russian skipper Vasily Artemyev resulted in yellow cards for Samoa’s Rey Lee-Lo and Matu’u when it appeared on first viewing that both incidents merited red cards.
The sanctions for high tackles in Samoa versus Russia didn't reflect well on World Rugby after they vowed its match officials would improve following an inconsistent opening weekend in Japan
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 24, 2019
Poite’s conversation with Hughes after Matu’u clattered into Artemyev’s head with his shoulder when like this…
POITE: “Have we foul play?”
POITE: “Have we a high tackle?”
POITE: “Have we contact direct on the head? Yes, but again 15 Red is falling down. Then it is a yellow card against 2 Blue.”
The referee then called over Matu’u and Samoan skipper Chris Vui to explain his decision and show the yellow card.
POITE: “It is exactly the same one. It is high, there is contact on the head but the mitigating factor is 15 is falling down. Please have a word about your players. They must be better with the tackle. It is another yellow card.”
WATCH: RugbyPass visits the World Cup fanzone in Tokyo
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