Six Nations Championship
IRB respond to England's Kaplan criticism
February 26, 2009
Referee Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa in action during match thirty seven of the Rugby World Cup 2007 between Scotland and Italy at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard in St. Etienne, France on September 29, 2007.
Jonathan Kaplan was criticised by England attack coach Brian Smith © Getty Images

The IRB has backed referee Jonathan Kaplan after he was heavily criticised by England attack coach Brian Smith following their 23-15 Six Nations loss to Wales at the Millennium Stadium on February 14.

Smith intimated that South African Kaplan had been influenced by the vociferous home crowd and the Wales management before the game, and that he went on to the field with a "preconceived idea" about England's style of play and recent disciplinary problems.

He said on Monday: "His (Kaplan's) whole demeanour through that match, the way he addressed our team in the changing room beforehand - he had clearly had heaps of pressure put on by Wales. The way our team was addressed prior to the Wales game took me a little bit by surprise. It was clear to me that Wales had done their job in terms of getting stuck into the referee.

"What we are really trying to say to the refs is: 'Please judge us the same way you judge other teams and do not to come into the game with a preconceived idea'."

Kaplan showed yellow cards to England centre Mike Tindall and fly-half Andy Goode at the Millennium Stadium, taking England's sin-bin tally to eight in their last three games. The IRB has praised Kaplan's handling of the game however, and advised Smith to use the proper channels should he have any complaints in the future.

"The International Rugby Board has confirmed that recent comments made by a member of the England team management that appear to question the performance of IRB Referee Jonathan Kaplan were unwarranted," read an IRB statement.

"The official performance review of the Wales versus England match at the Millennium Stadium ranks Kaplan's overall performance as high and the IRB is satisfied that Kaplan followed the correct protocol for addressing both teams on and off the field and dealt with England and Wales in a fair and professional manner and refereed what was in front of him.

"An official process exists for Unions to give feedback to the IRB on refereeing performances. IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien and the RFU Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew shared a very positive meeting on Monday, which makes the timing of the comments regrettable and unfortunate."


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