England Respond To Controversy Over Drafting In Official From Ireland Game To Assist Them

“What if it goes against us.”

England have denied a conflict of interest, after it was revealed that one of the officials from their game with Ireland this weekend was drafted in to assist them during a training session on Tuesday.

South Africa Marius van der Westhuizen is one of the match officials for the crucial Six Nations fixture between England and Ireland at Twickenham this weekend. He will joined by Jaco Peyper and referee Angus Gardner.


Under World Rugby rules an official is not permitted to help out a team when they are due to referee an upcoming game involving that side but there is no rule prohibiting an assistant referee from getting involved. A loophole some say England have exploited.

Asked if using the South African was appropriate given his presence at Twickenham on Saturday, England defence coach Paul Gustard said:

“Why wouldn’t it be?

“So they (Ireland) will be questioning his integrity? You could see it the other way, couldn’t you? What if it goes against us.

“He’s an international referee. He is one of the best referees. You’re asking someone to come in here and assist in training, give his viewpoint on things.

“It’s no different to if someone from Ireland rang up to give his viewpoint on things. They have the same access. I see no issue with it at all.

“This had been long in the pipeline. It is all part of understanding different referees, how they referee things.

“We have a relationship with the English referees that assist us. The opportunity to get other foreign referees in to give their viewpoint in how they see things is important for our growth as a squad.”

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