Rugby can't afford negativity

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:36

EXCLUSIVE: The controversy surrounding World Rugby's handling of the Spanish complaints in their 2019 World Cup qualifiers has brought unwanted negativity to the sport, something it cannot afford.

Watch from the 35th minute to hear the discussion!

Spain were recently beaten by Belgium in a must-win match to gain automatic entry into the showpiece event. As a result of the outcome, Romania has now automatically qualified but that is where the controversy starts.

All three match officials involved in the Spain-Belgium encounter were Romanian nationals - something which has been highlighted by the Spanish in their complaint to the governing body.

"You don't need to be a genius to work out that it doesn't look independent and clean cut. 

"Somewhere, somebody has missed a trick and not done their homework. For a country like Spain, or any Tier 2 country, this is massive. Being able to qualify automatically for the World Cup, in terms of funding, in terms of the growth of the game. 

"Unfortunately, rugby as a global game and trying to grow it, cannot afford these sort of incidents and cannot afford these sort of dodgy publicity," Anton van Zyl said.

This is the second administrative incident to occur in the space of a week, as prior to England's final Six Nations fixture against Ireland, World Rugby's handling of sending Marius van der Westhuizen to England's training session, knowing he would be an assistant referee for the match, caused much debate in the build-up to the game.

Van der Westhuizen was subsequently replaced by Nigel Owens for the encounter.

"Surely we are at a stage in rugby in the world where a South African referee can referee a game begin South Africa and New Zealand and have no issue. Surely we are there," Morgan Newman said.

Van Zyl then provided a solution to avoid future incidents.

"This is an ideal opportunity to take young referees from USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, send them into a completely foreign environment and let them cut their teeth," he added.

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