International Rugby
O'Brien continues to preach consistency
ESPNscrum Staff
November 9, 2010
Referee Paddy O'Brien looks on, England v France, Six Nations, Twickenham Stadium, London England, February 13, 2005
IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien wants greater consistency from his officials © Getty Images

International Rugby Board (IRB) Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien has reiterated the importance of consistency in application of the laws of the game ahead of next year's World Cup.

At the annual IRB High Performance Referees meeting in London on Monday, O'Brien again outlined the five key areas that he wants match officials to focus on:

  • offsides at the ruck
  • offside from kicks
  • illegal maul formation causing obstruction
  • scrum engagement sequence
  • accuracy of application of the tackle law

O'Brien commented: "The annual High Performance Referees meeting is a key element of the referee feedback and training process and enables us to review performances as a team, assess fitness objectives, consider the latest trends in the Game and reiterate the key focus areas to ensure consistency.

"Referees and the world's top coaches have bought into the obligation to penalise clear and obvious offences in the five areas that are our top priority. Collectively we are committed to promoting global consistency of the application of Law at Test and national competition level as we build to Rugby World Cup 2011."

Addressing the scrum engagement sequence on its own, O'Brien offered an optimistic take on the way in which referees, players and coaches alike are coming together to eliminate confusion over the exact laws of the set-piece.

"The 2010 Tri Nations saw a 40% decrease in the number of scrum resets compared to the 2010 June Tier 1 Tests, so this area of the Game is improving," he said.

"The coaches have all expressed their support of the referee leading the crouch, touch, pause, engage scrum sequence and sanctioning players who fail to follow the calling of the engagement procedure, particularly early engagement.

"The message to the referees is clear. We require greater consistency at the elite level and compliance is critical in this key area of the game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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