World Rugby has admitted that a mistake was made in the quarter-final Rugby World Cup 2015 game between Australia and Scotland. It could have meant a northern hemisphere team would have reached the semi-finals. However, no action will be taken against referee Craig Joubert and the rules will not be changed.
Joubert faced backlash on Sunday night and throughout Monday for the decision to award Australia a penalty in the 78th minute of the game, taken in the 79th minute. World Rugby says that he followed the rules regarding a knock-on, where a player deliberately plays the ball afterwards. This resulted in offside. However, many commentators after the match pointed out that it was an accidental offside. The ball had been knocked by Australian player Nick Phipps, and that went into the hands of a Scottish player. Joubert should have only awarded a scrum to the Wallabies, according to BBC Sport.
The awarding of a penalty in Scotland’s half meant that Bernard Foley was able to put his team ahead by one point. There was no time for Scotland to come back, and the team was eliminated from the 2015 World Cup. Had the team gotten through, it would have been the first time since 1991. It would have also meant that one northern hemisphere team would have gotten through to the semi-finals. This is the first time in World Cup history that the semi-finals have all been between southern hemisphere countries. Wales, France, and Ireland all lost their games in the matches before Scotland’s.
A review of referees always takes place following games. This has been highlighted after the Australia vs. Scotland game, and World Rugby reviewed Joubert’s officiating. According to the official Rugby World Cup 2015 website, while a mistake was made, there will be no action taken against Joubert. It was a difficult call, and the TMO could not have been used on this occasion.
The TMO can only be used if there is a questionable try or suspected foul play. While many have called for Joubert to check with the TMO, he would have broken the Rugby World Cup rules if he had done so. Now many are calling for the rules to be changed, but this will not happen. There needs to be a line drawn for when the TMO can be used, otherwise there would be no need for referees and touch judges.
Michael Cheika says that he blames himself for the game between Australia and Scotland. The Wallaby head coach says that the team focused too much on games past, such as those against England and Wales, rather than the upcoming fixture. Many expected Australia to run away with the game in a similar fashion to New Zealand’s victory over France the night before.
Cheika also slams the public and media for their view of Joubert. Many believe Joubert realized he had made a mistake, so ran off the pitch at the end. The Australia coach says that a bottle was thrown at the referee, and it is understandable that he ran off the pitch right away.
Scotland put a lot of heart and soul into the game and played for the full 80 minutes. The team was understandably heartbroken to lose it in the final minute, and Vern Cotter says that taking the decision to the TMO would have clarified any doubt. Scottish captain Greg Laidlaw was also clearly upset that the TMO had not been used in his interview after the game. World Rugby is still looking into other aspects of the Rugby World Cup 2015, so while the TMO rules may not change, other aspects may.
[Featured photo by David Rogers/Getty Images]