Premiership referee gets blasted by RFU chief

The Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) disciplinary chief has blasted one of the leading Guinness Premiership referee for decision-making which he describes as “almost beyond comprehension”.

His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett came out and spoke up against Leicestershire official Martin Fox, who refereed the Premiership clash between Wasps and Worcester earlier this month.

An incident in the match saw Wasps and England back-row star James Haskell being cited and then later banned.

“This case has not been handled well by match officials or the citing officer (Matt Bayliss). The referee was very close to the incident and must have had a clear view of what occurred, yet he took no or insufficient disciplinary action.” Blackett said:

“This is very disappointing, given the recent IRB (International Rugby Board) directive on ‘clearing out’.” he added.

Haskell will only be allowed to play rugby again on September the 30th which is a day before Wasps meet Bath in the Premiership.

Haskell’s team-mate, lock Richard Birkett, avoided a ban after being cited for stamping in the same game but he was reprimanded and warned.

Blackett said: “The first act by (Worcester number six Tom) Wood, in which he jumped into (Wasps number three Phil) Vickery with a swinging arm, is exactly the sort of action envisaged in, and prohibited by, the directive.

“The IRB have asked for referees to apply zero tolerance to this sort of dangerous play, and that means taking early and decisive action.

“Having not penalised Wood, the referee then observed Vickery grabbing (Worcester number four Greg) Rawlinson by the scrum cap and dragging him into the ruck (the action which was subsequently penalised).

“He then stood by as Rawlinson punched Vickery five times in and around the head, despite Haskell’s request for intervention, and then he observed Haskell clearing out Rawlinson by lunging towards him head-first – another example of the behaviour envisaged in the IRB directive.”

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