Rugby Union

Five referees who excelled at the Rugby World Cup

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Following the Scotland vs Australia quarter-final, veteran pundits Gavin Hastings and Matt Dawson blasted Craig Joubert for a poor performance and disrespectful attitude, after refusing to go to the TMO with an unclear penalty and then sprinting from the pitch after blowing the final whistle.

Several referees have been below par during Rugby World Cups gone by. Now retired Alan Rolland springs to mind and Jerome Garces farcical approach to the set piece cannot be overlooked.

Lengthy TMO pauses and inconsistent citing rulings have made the rule makers look a little foolish during this year's World Cup, as has been commented on by several veterans including Jonathan Davies of Wales.


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However, it’s rare that a well-refereed game gets the praise it deserves, so here are five referees who have been consistent, fair and as competent as a fast-pace contact sport allows.

Wayne Barnes

Very much a marmite character, people either love Barnes or hate him. However, he is always clear and isn’t afraid to stamp his authority on the game.

The 36-year-old has also managed to efficiently use the TMO from the beginning of the World Cup, asking for checks while continuing play. Barnes is one of the few refs not guilty of blowing for a try before checking with the TMO and keeps a captain chat to the minimum.

The Englishman can drift into being pedantic and, on occasion, is overly harsh at the breakdown and ruck, but he is always consistent and players know what to expect.

Jaco Peyper

He has grown into a figure of authority in recent seasons, managing to encourage positive rugby and fair play in his matches.

Peyper has occasionally been guilty of over-using the TMO and naive in scrums.

But the South African has a good empathy for the game and a tough stance on foul play that makes him stand out as a good official.

Romain Poite

Poite is one of the better referees to have when it comes to set piece play and aggressive contests.

Always in control of matches, the 40-year-old is well known for not letting players or captains waste game time with too much chatting and his loud accented 'use it' calls have become a trade mark.

Poite managed to restore French honour when he refereed England vs Australia and repeatedly pinged England’s illegal scrummaging - something fellow countryman Jerome Garces was happy to ignore.

Glen Jackson

Former player Jackson was fast-tracked into becoming an international referee and it seems for good reason.

Consistent, fair and fleet around the pitch, Jackson has great empathy for the game and a good working knowledge of the law.

Not yet a master of refereeing the scrum, but with enough potential to be one of the greats.

Nigel Owens

Loud, clear, authoritative and funny, Owens is a fan and player favourite on the pitch.

He is equally well known for his on-pitch one-liners and his fair approach to refereeing. The Welshman has the best empathy for an entertaining and flowing game since the retirement of Steve Walsh.

Owens is very good at refereeing the most difficult aspects of the game such as the scrum and maul, as well as getting on well with captains without letting them waste time.

Honourable mention

Steve Walsh may have been a bit wild off the pitch, but the recently retired former Super Rugby referee was one of the best to pick up a whistle. Excellent at the set piece and always encouraged an entertaining style of play, he has been sorely missed at this year's World Cup.

Which Rugby World Cup referee deserves the most recognition ahead of the semi-finals? Give your opinion in the comment box below!

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