IRB admits "unfortunate" error by officials
October 4, 2012
Robbie Deans' Wallabies finished their latest clash with the Springboks with just 13 players on the field © Getty Images
The International Rugby Board has admitted the officials got it wrong when they prevented Australia from making a replacement during their Rugby Championship defeat to South Africa last Saturday.
The clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, won 31-8 by the Springboks, ended in farce with referee Alain Rolland not allowing Saia Faingaa to replace injured team-mate Tatafu Polota-Nau with 14 minutes left in the game.
Rolland, with support from his four assistants, ruled that Australia had already made their maximum seven changes including the key rotation of their props that saw Benn Robinson replaced early and then returning later in the game to take Ben Alexander's place.
However, the IRB has admitted that Australia had one "technical substitution" remaining with Law 3.12 (Exception 2) stating that: "a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions."
IRB match official selection committee chairman John Jeffrey said: "The area of substitution management is a team effort. This was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials who fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of the substitution Law.
"All match official performances, including last weekend's match, are thoroughly reviewed and assessed by the IRB and are considered when appointments are made for future Test matches."
Performances during the Rugby Championship will be reviewed at the IRB Match Official Selection Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa this weekend while Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill insists the mistake did not impact on the result.
"That is not up for debate at all," O'Neill said. "However, given the circumstances where the Wallabies were dealing with a massive and mounting injury toll, it was frustrating and unfair for the team to carry additional burdens. The ARU hopes the referee has learnt from this error."
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