International Rugby
Top coaches join forces with IRB
May 21, 2010
Referee Paddy O'Brien in his 200th first class match awards a try to the Blues against the Hurricanes in their Super 12 rugby match at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand on March 26, 2004.
Former Test official and now IRB referees boss Paddy O'Brien has hailed the success of the meeting of rugby minds © Getty Images

The world's leading coaches have endorsed the International Rugby Board's ongoing efforts to clean up key areas of the game.

England manager Martin Johnson, South Africa coach Peter de Villiers and All Blacks assistant Steve Hansen were amongst those Tier 1 representatives present at a forum, hosted by the IRB, to discuss all aspects of refereeing practice and global playing trends.

And those coaches present expressed their support for the IRB's commitment to penalising the clear and obvious and reiterated the need for consistency in ensuring strict application of Law in five key areas of the game:

a) strict refereeing of offside at the breakdown
b) strict refereeing of offside from kicks
c) strict refereeing of illegal maul formation causing obstruction
d) strict refereeing of the clear and obvious at the scrum, including slowing down of the scrum engagement sequence, front row binding and scrum feeds
e) consistency in the application of the tackle Law

The forum is set to become a regular fixture on the calendar ahead of the June and November Tests and will sit alongside three annual meetings with the world's top referees and referee managers to promote consistency of performance.

"The meeting was extremely constructive and highly productive, the first of its kind between the IRB and the world's top coaches. All found it very beneficial and it was encouraging to see universal support for strict application of the Laws in these five key areas of the Game," said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien.

"The meeting presented the opportunity to discuss pressing officiating issues and all aspects of referee to coach communication. No new directives have been issued, but it allowed us to clearly outline to all the coaches the way in which the IRB's referees will approach matches, the commitment to consistency of application across all areas of Law and a commitment to penalise the clear and obvious.

"In particular there was a collective determination between the IRB and the coaches to eradicate the number of scrum resets and collapses which are currently prominent at the elite level of the Game. The coaches expressed their full support for referees to employ a zero tolerance to formation offences in this important facet of the Game."

The IRB insists that the concept underscores their commitment to an open and transparent process of collaboration and communication between the IRB and its Member Unions in all areas of refereeing practice.

The annual High Performance meeting in November is supplemented by IRB meetings with the SANZAR representatives in July and the Northern Hemisphere representatives in March of each year.


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