South Africa’s Craig Joubert has come in for scything criticism of his handling of the Australia v Scotland Rugby World Cup quarter-final at Twickenham on Sunday.
Joubert’s decision to award Australia a match-winning penalty for offsides in the 79th minute ultimately gave the Wallabies a 35-34 get-out-of-jail card.
But was it a penalty?
No, according to the law book.
Scotland may have knocked the ball on, but Wallaby replacement scrumhalf Nick Phibbs then touched the ball before Scotland replacement Jon Welsh played it – and was penalised for doing so.
The decision came minutes after a clear late interference by Australia’s Drew Mitchell – for which the wing apologised – which went unpunished despite the largely Scottish 77 110 crowd baying for Joubert to refer to the TMO.
In a third contentious decision, in the 42nd minute of the match Joubert yellow-carded Scotland wing Sean Maitland for a deliberate foul which was harsh in the extreme.
Joubert, who felt the wrath of French supporters for his handling of the 2011 World Cup final in New Zealand, sprinted from the field after the final whistle, not sticking around to congratulate – nor commiserate – with either team, in a move that smacked of ‘I’ve erred’.
Former Scotland legend Gavin Hastings, speaking on BBC Radio 5 said, “If I see referee Craig Joubert again, I am going to tell him how disgusted I am. It was disgraceful that he ran straight off the pitch at the end like that.
“The referee is not expected to make the right decision all the time. That’s what the TMO system is in place for. This is the quarter-final of a Rugby World Cup. This is the highest end of our sport and they have to get these decisions right.”
It remains to be seen whether Joubert will be seen again at this year’s World Cup when appointments are made for the semi-finals, third/fourth playoff and final.