The English official handed Canadian lock Josh Larsen a red in the first half for a shoulder charge to the head of Springboks prop Thomas du Toit. However, it wasn’t necessarily the decision to give a red card which was praised, as it was unanimously deemed to be a red, but his handling of the situation.
Pearce was thorough in his decision-making and was not intent on rushing the decision. While the television match official seemed reluctant to call it a red, as there was initially contact to the shoulder, the referee was forthright in his conviction.
When some referees have been keen to downgrade cards to a yellow at times this RWC for fear of a backlash, Pearce didn’t shirk in his decision. The manner in which he explained the call – saying “I’m sure you’re aware of the current climate” – only justified why he made the right choice.
In light of this decision, he has been praised as the best referee in the competition by fans on Twitter, which is rare praise as referees have been lambasted by fans over the past few weeks for a multitude of reasons, including allegations of bias. This is what was said:
Even as a man who hates English refs Luke Pearce is one of the best refs in the world at the moment and also one of my favourites #RSAvsCAN
— Ieuan Evans (@IeuanEvans015) October 8, 2019
Other refs could take a lot out of Luke Pearce's book. He communicates so well on all of his decisions and is firm with everyone involved. KUDOS to a ref that obviously works on his game like the players do. #boktwitter #RWC2019
— Wayne Woolard (@SaffaWooly) October 8, 2019
— Damien (@popeycymru) October 8, 2019
— Michael Bromfield (@mikebromf) October 8, 2019
— Nicks Johnston (@nicksjj) October 8, 2019
Very, very impressed by Luke Pearce in this tournament. Always decisive, great communication and explains his decisions with clarity and authority. #RSAvCAN
— Joshua Jones (@_joshuajones) October 8, 2019
When Wayne Barnes retires after this World Cup, Luke Pearce isn’t a bad person to replace him as England’s number one referee.
Excellent communication and decision making
— Jarleth Eaton (@jarleth_eaton) October 8, 2019
Luke Pearce very democratic making it an ensemble decision including all refereeing officials.
Very diligent in their decision making, it’s been a WC full of criticism after all.
Neither touch judge looked like they wanted to make the call at all.
— Aron Cynan (@acynan97) October 8, 2019
While some red cards and tackles have been debatable at times in this RWC, this was a clear red in Kobe and a senseless act of foul play by Larsen. Similar to Italy’s red card for Andrea Lovotti against the Springboks last week, the offence occurred on South Africa’s line.
Not only were Canada in the ascendency, but this was also simply wanton violence that was not needed. This would probably have been a red card on most occasions, but with World Rugby seeking to clamp down on any contact to the head over the past couple of years and during this RWC, this sanction had to be given.
WATCH: RugbyPass gets the fans’ verdict following South Africa’s easy win over Canada
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