Australians back referee in Fall furore
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.’’