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Rugby Australia defend Angus Gardner after red card reversal

By Online Editors

Rugby Australia have defended referee Angus Gardner and asked World Rugby for clarification after cancelling the red card issued to France fullback Benjamin Fall last weekend.

Gardner and TMO George Ayoub sent Fall off 11 minutes into New Zealand’s 26-13 win after Beauden Barrett landed in a dangerous position following an in-air collision.

Gardner ruled Fall had breached Law 9.17, which reads: “A player must not tackle, charge, pull, push or grasp an opponent whose feet are off the ground.”

After the match a World Rugby-appointed Independent Judicial Committee deemed Fall’s contact with All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown ultimately affected his ability to contest for the ball.


A statement from World Rugby read: “We did not consider that the Player would have foreseen the events, which ultimately unfolded, and therefore could not have, in our opinion, given the speed of the events and the dynamics at play, taken any preventative steps to avoid the collision with NZ #10 or to have put himself in a position to contest the ball as he had initially planned.”

Fall’s red card was dismissed, with the statement also saying “the referee’s decision to issue the red card was wrong”.

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Rugby Australia high-performance boss Ben Whitaker told Fairfax Media the organisation fully backed Gardner.

“Angus is one of the best referees in the world and I’ve had a lot to do with Angus over many, many years and our view is he made the right call on Saturday night,” Whitaker said. “It’s really unfortunate that a hearing then comes out and suggests he got it wrong.”

“We feel pretty confused when we’ve been engaged and involved at the highest level of refereeing development, then you have this decision handed down.

“It’s tough for Angus and we’re 100 per cent behind Angus to make sure he gets back on the horse and continues to prove he is one of the best referees in the world.”

The review committee stated, “No criticism is made of the referee nor, in our opinion, would any be warranted.”

Despite this, Rugby Australia remains adamant that Gardner’s decision was the correct one.

“We’ve got in contact with World Rugby at all levels to make sure we understood what was going on so that Angus was well supported,” Whitaker said. “How those situations in a game are to be ruled was pretty clear to us. That’s why we feel Angus got it right because World Rugby spent a lot of time looking at how we best adjudicate the sort of things that can happen in those situations.”

“We just want to be really clear on why that’s the case. That’s the cause of our confusion. We want to know the supposed plans going forward.”

Gardner has been named as assistant referee for Saturday’s third Test between New Zealand and France.

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