Joe Schmidt Will Be Having A Quiet Word With World Rugby Ahead Of Their Clash With Samoa

Player welfare.

World Rugby released an extraordinary statement yesterday where they appeared to criticise the performance of their referees at the World Cup so far after a number of dangerous tackles went unpunished.

Japan lock James Moore escaped sanction for a no-arms tackle on Friday, while Reece Hodge remained on the field for a similar offence on Fiji’s Peceli Yato. Hodge has since been cited and banned but the fact that it was not picked up on the day by the referee, officials or TMO is what has everyone baffled.

“Following the usual review of matches, the match officials team recognise that performances over the opening weekend were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves,” the World Rugby statement read.

“But World Rugby is confident of the highest standards of officiating moving forward.

“Elite match officials are required to make decisions in complex, high-pressure situations and there have been initial challenges with the use of technology and team communication, which have impacted decision-making.

“These are already being addressed by the team of 23 match officials to enhance consistency.

“Given this proactive approach, a strong team ethic and a superb support structure, World Rugby has every confidence in the team to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2019 delivers the highest levels of accurate, clear and consistent decision-making.”

But just hours after this statement was released, World Rugby were once again left red-faced after referee Romain Poite bottled two massive decisions in Samoa’s win over Russia.

The Frenchman on two occasions allowed Samoa to escape with yellow cards for reckless high tackles as he felt both players were ‘ducking’ into the challenges, mitigating the offences down to a yellow.

Ireland face Samoa in their final pool match on October 12, a week before a likely quarter-final match-up with South Africa should everything go according to the plan in the coming weeks.

Head coach Joe Schmidt knows better than most what can happen to a squad before a World Cup quarter-final after Ireland were decimated with injuries in their win over France four years ago.

Ahead of that Samoa game, Schmidt will perhaps be forced to have a quiet word with World Rugby in the interest of his players’ welfare. He will need reassurance that Samoa will be punished if they continue to play on the edge – or better yet, be given assurances that they will be warned before the game that they cannot continue to play in such fashion.

When you’re knocking yourself out because you hit your opponent high with such force – something is wrong. Otherwise, there will be some serious casualties.

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