Van der Westhuizen removed from Grand Slam game

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 18:22
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NEWS: Marius van der Westhuizen has been stood down from his role as an assistant referee for Ireland's Grand Slam clash at Twickenham on Saturday after World Rugby admitted they had erred in clearing him to attend an England training session this week.

Welsh referee Nigel Owens will now run the line instead of the South African after global governing body World Rugby announced Thursday they took full responsibility for an "oversight".

Van der Westhuizen refereed England's training session at their Bagshot squad base on Tuesday, just five days before he was due to run the line in their match against Ireland at Twickenham.

World Rugby regulations bar match referees - in this case Australia's Angus Gardner - from working with competing teams in the build-up to a Test but no such prohibition exists for their assistants. 

But, ahead of a high-profile fixture, World Rugby have acted to avoid any hint of a conflict of interest. 

"World Rugby has confirmed that Marius van der Westhuizen will be replaced by Nigel Owens as Assistant Referee Two for the Six nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday," they said in a statement.

"The decision follows Marius's attendance at an England training session this week. 

The statement added: "World Rugby takes responsibility for this oversight and has taken the proactive decision to stand Marius down to avoid any additional unfair and unnecessary conjecture. 

"Marius is an outstanding talent with a big international future and both he and his employer SARU [South African Rugby Union] fully support the decision."

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had earlier suggested World Rugby needed to tighten its regulations, saying: "I'm sure in retrospect people are probably thinking it's not the best thing to do."

But he added: "I know Marius and I would have no hesitation in standing by his integrity."

Prior to World Rugby's announcement England coach Eddie Jones defended Van der Westhuizen's involvement with his side by saying: "We went through World Rugby, which is the proper channel."

Agence France-Presse

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Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
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Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
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Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1