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'Tom is distraught' - Richards furious at RFU over ref appointment

By Chris Jones
Falcons full back Tom Penny is shown a red card by referee Anthony Woodthorpe (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Newcastle Falcons boss Dean Richards has criticised the Rugby Football Union’s refereeing department for appointing Anthony Woodthorpe to take control of a match that saw fullback Tom Penny sent off for making contact with Wasps Jimmy Gopperth’s eye.


Richards’ comments are certain to be examined by the RFU who under their misconduct regulations the Governing body can examine “comments and/or conduct in connection with current and/or anticipated disciplinary proceedings and/or match officiating (or any aspect thereof) which may be prejudicial to and/or impact upon current and/or anticipated disciplinary proceedings and/or which are prejudicial to the interests of the Game and/or any person; or the disciplinary process.”

Newcastle won 18-14 despite having Penny sent off after 55 minutes for making contact with eye of Gopperth. In the fixture last season the same referee missed a gouging incident on Wasps Josh Bassett by Mateo Carrerras with the Argentine centre cited after the game and banned for nine weeks.

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A clearly frustrated Richards, the Newcastle director of rugby, said: “Tom is distraught in the changing room because he didn’t think anything was deliberate.

“His leg was trapped in by Jimmy Gopperth, and you’ve got to look at who the instigator of the whole thing was. Tom tried to release his leg three times and couldn’t, as he’s stumbling away and breaking free he pushes his face and catches I think his eye. Jimmy makes a meal of it, and if there is contact with the eye then so be it.

“It wasn’t deliberate, and you have to look at who the protagonist is. It’s clearly Jimmy Gopperth, and why should our boy get penalised for being held in at a ruck?

“It’s the same official we had against Wasps last year when he missed the Josh Bassett incident, and he wasn’t going to miss anything today. We were expecting a little bit of something today, and I’m surprised the refereeing department put him on this game if I’m totally honest about it.


“It was a big story last season and we were totally surprised (he was appointed) and you have to beg the question why did they do that?”

Richard’s view of the referee was not helped by a yellow card handed to Wasps Vaea Fifita for a high tackle that he felt deserved a red.” We all thought it was a red card but he was never going to give two red cards in the game.”


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