Aus­tralians back ref­eree in Fall furore

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Rugby Aus­tralia has come out in staunch de­fence of a ‘‘con­fused’’ An­gus Gard­ner and de­manded clar­ity from World Rugby fol­low­ing the Aus­tralian ref­eree’s con­tro­ver­sial red-card­ing of French full­back Ben­jamin Fall on Satur­day.

Gard­ner, who re­ceived as­sis­tance from TMO Ge­orge Ay­oub, sent Fall from the field in the 11th minute of New Zealand’s 26-13 win when first fiveeighth Beau­den Bar­rett landed in a dan­ger­ous po­si­tion.

By the let­ter of the law, Gard­ner made the cor­rect de­ci­sion by send­ing off Fall for breach­ing Law 9.17, which reads: ‘‘for tack­ling, charg­ing, pulling, push­ing or grasp­ing an op­po­nent whose feet were off the ground’’.

How­ever, an In­de­pen­dent Ju­di­cial Com­mit­tee deemed Fall’s con­tact with All Blacks cen­tre An­ton Lienert-brown in the lead-up hin­dered his abil­ity to con­test prop­erly for the ball.

Fall’s red card was dis­missed, with a state­ment say­ing that on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­ity ‘‘the ref­eree’s de­ci­sion to is­sue the red card was wrong’’.

Gard­ner is one of the most highly re­garded ref­er­ees in the world but has been left con­fused about what he should have done if he had his time over.

RA high-per­for­mance boss Ben Whi­taker told Fairfax Me­dia the or­gan­i­sa­tion was firmly be­hind Gard­ner and ex­pressed dis­il­lu­sion­ment at what tran­spired. ‘‘An­gus is one of the best ref­er­ees in the world and . . . our view is he made the right call,’’ Whi­taker said. ‘‘We’re 100 per cent be­hind An­gus to make sure he gets back on the horse and con­tin­ues to prove he is one of the best ref­er­ees in the world.’’

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