Joe Schmidt Comments On England’s Controversial Use Of Match Official


Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says it is a “bit of a surprise” that England decided to bring in a match official from this weekend’s game to assist them in training this week.

Marius van der Westhuizen, who will be one of the match officials this weekend in Twickenham, along with Jaco Peyper and referee Angus Gardner, was invited to an England training session on Tuesday.

Ireland apparently were unaware that the South African had been invited into the England camp ahead of the crucial fixture.

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.

“Yeah that was a bit of a surprise.” Schmidt said.

“In retrospect people are probably thinking it may not have been the best thing to do.”

However, Schmidt is confident it won’t affect the game. He says he would have no hesitation in standing by Marius van der Westhuizen’s integrity.

“But I know Marius. I would have no hesitation in standing by his integrity. I don’t think it will affect his decision making”

“So we’d still have faith in him as an official on Saturday.”

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