Aviva Premiership
RFU warns Cockerill and O'Shea over conduct
ESPN Staff
January 11, 2013
Harlequins' Conor O'Shea and Chris Robshaw find themselves in the media spotlight, Connacht v Harlequins, Sportsground, Galway, Ireland, October 20, 2012
Conor O'Shea has criticised the standard of refereeing in the past week © PA Photos

The Rugby Football Union has warned Leicester Tigers' Richard Cockerill and Harlequins' Conor O'Shea about their future conduct after the pair were vocal in their criticism of match officials.

Cockerill lambasted Andrew Small in the wake of Leicester's 17-12 win over Gloucester in December, a match which saw the referee hand out four yellow cards. Cockerill called for the match officials in the Aviva Premiership to be better "educated" and said added: "I am lost for words. I have spent 30 years in the middle of scrums. I coach it every day.

"We try to be really professional and then we have to deal with that. It's just not good enough. It has got to end, enough is enough. He (Small) needs to look at it and see his faults and try and improve. That's the whole point of coaching, whether you are a referee or a rugby coach."

And O'Shea's comments related to Harlequins' win over London Welsh on Sunday. He was less than impressed with Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts's decision making and said of the referee's performance: "I'm unbelievably frustrated, you'd have to go a long way to see worse.

"Everything was wrong - it was incredible. The offside line was irrelevant, trailing runners coming back was irrelevant, backing into the maul, not releasing in the tackle - all irrelevant. We were 21-6 at half-time but bafflingly the penalty count was against us, how can that be? We have a feedback process for the referees but it's not actioned upon and it's very difficult at times."

And the RFU has now written to the duo warning them that "questioning the integrity of referees in future may lead to their being charged with bringing the game into disrepute under RFU Rule 5.12." The RFU added that it wants the coaches to use the "existing agreed feedback process" regarding the performance of officials.

The Rugby Coaches Association (RCA) has also spoken out about the current state of officiating in the domestic game and its chairman Sir Ian McGeechan added: "Consistency in refereeing is what all involved in the game need more than anything.

"Coaches and players recognise that referees have a difficult job. The chaotic nature of the game, the pace that it is played at today and the technical aspects of the set pieces in particular, make for difficult decision-making. We don't expect the match officials to make the right decisions every time, however, we would like consistency from week to week."

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