Reporting from Tokyo: Referee Angus Gardner has been switched out of this weekend’s England Argentina game.


Ben O’Keefe of New Zealand will be replacing Gardner as an assistant referee, while Gardner will instead be posted to AR duty on Japan versus Samoa.

Both referees’ officiating has come in for criticism during the Pool stages.

O’Keefe was heavily criticed by the press, fans and indeed World Rugby for failing to action Reece Hodge following a high hit on Peceli Yato of Fiji. The tackle saw Yato fail a HIA and Hodge was ultimately suspended for the remaining three pool games.

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Gardner also is understood to have come in for internal criticism following his officiating of the France Argentina pool game.

Joe Schmidt has also now revealed that World Rugby confirmed that three out of four offside calls during Ireland famous loss to Japan last weekend were incorrect, once again painting Gardner in a poor light.


“We were penalised for offside four times and we’ve now got the feedback that three of those were incorrect calls. People were asking us about our discipline.

“It’s pretty hard to keep getting off the line and onto the front foot when you are getting those calls. Two of them were from an AR (assistant referee – Garces) who is going to be refereeing us on Thursday, so we know we’re going to have to be on our best behaviour.

“One thing I would say about this team is that they try to go out and deliver and, generally speaking, it’s unusual for us to have a higher penalty count than our opponents. So it’s frustrating.


“I thought Wayne [Barnes] did a super job (in Ireland v Scotland).”

A statement from World Rugby says that change are for travel programme reasons: “Ben O’Keefe is replacing Angus Gardner as Assistant Referee 1.

“Angus Gardner is replacing Ben O’Keeffe.”

Former All Blacks coach slams ‘tedious and ridiculous’ TMO interference.

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