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Officials in firing line

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Officials in firing line after England's win over Ireland

It is not uncommon for the match officials to be on the receiving end of tirades from unhappy coaches, players and fans after a match, usually a loss. 

However, in the wake of England’s 24-12 win over Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday, those from both sides of the Irish Sea have objected to the officiating of the Test. 

In a game where the ruck seemed to descend to anarchy at times, with players playing fast and loose with the offside law, former England international Andy Goode has suggested Jaco Peyper favoured the home side. 

Jim Hamilton concurred, citing Jonny May’s break in the second half that came from slapping the ball from scrumhalf Conor Murray’s hands. That actually preceded a tackle off the ball from Robbie Henshaw that has proved to be equally contentious, and was also missed. 

 

English and Irish fans have both accused the South African referee of being biased, which perhaps suggests that he was more neutral than many would like to think. But there were undoubtedly some decisions that went unnoticed. 

Very few, if any, would argue that the referee swayed the result of the game, as England were significantly strong, particularly in the first half, but that should not excuse the standard of the officiating. 

 

In a contest that was full of scuffles and niggly events, the apparent silence of the television match official Marius Jonker has also been questioned. The TMO is at liberty to intervene if foul play is suspected, but Jonker largely abstained on Sunday. 

An altercation between Owen Farrell and CJ Stander in the second half was one instance which has been widely discussed post-match, as have a couple of shots from James Ryan on Tom Curry and Maro Itoje, which by current standards could potentially have been red cards. 

The majority of criticism that has been directed at referees and TMOs over the past year is that they are draconian to the point where some feel it has killed games off. This is understandable as World Rugby seeks to make the game safer. However, it was bedlam at times at Twickenham, both in terms of foul play and the laws of the game, which has proven to be equally controversial. 

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Officials in firing line after England's win over Ireland
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