Controversial refs get World Cup call

2011-04-09 10:09

Sydney, Australia – Controversial referees Jonathan Kaplan and Steve Walsh will officiate at a record fourth rugby World Cup this year after being included in the 10-strong panel for the showpiece tournament today.

Ireland’s George Clancy will make his World Cup debut by taking charge of the opening game between hosts New Zealand and Tonga at Eden Park on September 9 but the other pool match appointments will not be announced until August.

“The IRB is pleased with the way that the high-performance referees have responded to refereeing the key areas of the game identified 12 months ago and also the manner in which they have responded to a lift in fitness standards that have been set over the course of the past two years,” the International Rugby Board’s David Pickering said in a statement.

“In selecting 10 referees we are underlining our commitment to further enhancing consistency and a policy of selecting the best match officials for the world’s best teams at rugby’s showcase tournament.”

Given the importance of a referee’s interpretation of the laws on top rugby matches, few experienced officials have avoided some controversy in their careers.

South African Kaplan’s latest was the row about the illegal throw-in that led to a Welsh victory over Ireland in the recently completed Six Nations tournament.

New Zealand-born Walsh will represent Australia at the tournament after making the move across the Tasman Sea after his dismissal by his home union in 2009 for disciplinary reasons.

At the 2003 World Cup, he was suspended for a match after a touchline row with an England fitness coach and he served a four-month ban for abusing Ireland winger Shane Horgan during the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand two years later.

Ireland’s Alain Rolland, who took charge of the 2007 World Cup final, is the other Irish referee included.

Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Nigel Owens (Wales), Steve Walsh (Australia), George Clancy (Ireland), Alain Rolland (Ireland), Dave Pearson (England), Wayne Barnes (England), Romain Poite (France), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand).

Touch judges: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Jerome Garces (France), Stuart Terheege (England), Tim Hayes (Wales), Simon McDowell (Ireland), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
TV match officials: Giulio De Santis (Italy), Graham Hughes (England), Matt Goddard (Australia), Shaun Veldsman (South Africa).

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