World Rugby boss praises 'improved' refereeing after rare rebuke

Tokyo (AFP) –


World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont said Tuesday the standard of refereeing at the World Cup had improved after organisers took the rare step of admonishing officials for their performance.

The refereeing has proved to be a major talking point at the 2019 World Cup -- in particular over new guidelines for policing high tackles that have led to a record seven red cards being shown on the pitch.

After what was widely considered to be an inconsistent interpretation of the new rules over the first weekend, World Rugby hit out at its own officials, saying their performance was "not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby".

But Beaumont told reporters: "I would think certainly the refereeing has improved."

Referring to the statement from the opening weekend, he said: "It was not a major criticism, it was an observation, saying that as a player you have good days, bad days and sometimes referees are the same."

It is easy for those sitting on the sidelines to snipe, said Beaumont.

"Since I've been retired, every decision I've made on the rugby field has been the right one," quipped the former Grand Slam-winning England captain.

"I think the refereeing has been good. I think the use of the assistant referee on the sidelines has worked well. So, certainly, we're pleased," he added.

Organisers also unveiled their list of officials for the knock-out stages.

France's Jerome Garces will take charge of England v Australia, his second Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Experienced Welshman Nigel Owens will referee New Zealand's clash against Ireland in Tokyo Stadium on the same day.

Jaco Peyper from South Africa will officiate the Wales v France match -- his first World Cup quarter-final -- while English ref Wayne Barnes takes charge of the Japan v South Africa match in Tokyo.

"They are the best of the best and have played their full part in what will be remembered as an incredible pool stage," Beaumont said in a statement.