World Rugby's plan to combat officiating issues
In the aftermath of the July Test matches, World Rugby are reporterly taking drastic changes regarding the officiating.
According to The Telegraph, World Rugby is considering the introduction of a centrally-contracted group of referees to oversee international matches.
The plan, which is under serious consideration, is a bid to drive consistency in decision-making across high-profile tournaments such as the Six Nations and the World Cup, as well as one-off Tests, the report claim.
Currently, referees are employed by their respective unions and are then appointed by World Rugby to international matches, based on how they performed in domestic and regional competitions – such as Super Rugby, United Rugby Championship, Top 14 and Premiership.
However, given the recent outcries by various high-profile coaches including Eddie Jones, World Rugby is seeking an alternative hence the central contracts for an elite group of officials.
This will mean that World Rugby will provide training camps and will also create a common approach to issues such as high tackles, the scrum and breakdown.
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The Telegraph stated that during the Test match window, the referees could return to their home nation, or foreign leagues, to provide match sharpness when there are no international fixtures.
Should they proceed with the idea of central contracts for international officials, World Rugby will be mindful of contract lengths.
Stuff reported that the move has been examined and debated internally over recent years and had resurfaced prior to the July internationals.
England coach Eddie Jones has advocated such a move in the past.
In December 2020, he told the BBC that a collective of Test referees would encourage a better spectacle.
“I think the great example is the World Cup,” Jones said.
“We tend to get our best rugby at the World Cups when referees are all on the same page and they’ve all got the same ideas on how to interpret various areas of the game.
“As we go forward, the game is getting more intense and the players, physically, are improving every year so the contest we have, physically, is increasingly more intense.
“Therefore, the application and the constancy of the law is just so important. And, maybe, in the future, World Rugby has to look towards having a centralised group of referees.”
It was certainly a very challenging July Test Series for officials as All Blacks head coach Ian Foster and Jones publicly scrutinise the officials.
Foster said Test rugby is becoming a card festival after his team copped two yellow cards and a contentious red in their loss during the second Test against Ireland – officiated by Jaco Peyper.
Sources: The Telegraph, Stuff & Wales Online
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