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World Rugby admits three referee errors went against Ireland in loss to Japan

NZ Herald

World Rugby has admitted that officials made three incorrect penalty calls in Ireland’s shock loss to Japan in Shizuoka on Saturday.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had expressed concerns about referee Angus Gardner prior to the game, referring back to his side’s clash against Wales in March, and again lamented the officiating after the Japan defeat.

Schmidt pointed to a number of “very tough” offside calls against his team, adding that “it’s not too dissimilar to the last time we had this referee”.

Ireland have since sought clarification from World Rugby on a few controversial decisions and Schmidt revealed that they received confirmation from the governing body that three of the four offside calls given against his side were “incorrect”.

However, two of the three incorrect calls came from assistant referee Jerome Garces, who it turns out will be officiating Ireland’s third World Cup match against Russia.

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Schmidt admitted that it was “frustrating” to be on the receiving end of those incorrect calls.

“We certainly learned that we’re capable. In that first 20 minutes, to be 12-3 up, I think we demonstrated that,” Schmidt said. “We did put ourselves on the back foot – and partly went onto the back foot.

“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).

“I know that talking to Gregor [Townsend], they (Scotland) were happy with how Wayne went in the first game as well. That’s our fault if we were on the wrong side of the penalty count there but I do think we’ve got to try to look after that as best we can.”

Despite his frustrations, Schmidt didn’t take anything away from Japan.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t become passive in a game to an opposition that are playing in front of their home crowd. You’d have to be really impressed with the way Japan got themselves back into the game.

“If it wasn’t us that lost the game, I’d say, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic for the tournament.’ Everywhere we’ve gone, the Japanese people have been incredibly excited about the game.

“They’re delighted with us, obviously, and I think loads of interest has been spiked by that.”

This article first appeared in nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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World Rugby admits three referee errors went against Ireland in loss to Japan