In a Rugby World Cup year, the focus is on match officials more than ever.
Big calls, controversial cards, TMO decisions, offside lines…they’re all under the microscope.
The man in charge of those officials is Alain Rolland, who joins us for Episode 11 of the Players Podcast.
A former player turned referee, Rolland took charge of a Rugby World Cup final, 3 European Cup finals and many other massive games – before taking over as World Rugby Referees manager for the 15s game.
On the Podcast, the Irishman talks candidly about his career, how he “accidentally” got into refereeing, his controversial call to send Sam Warburton off, clarity around tackles in the air and much more.
On the subject of tackles in the air, Rolland addressed the Benjamin Fall red card from the New Zealand v France test in June last year. Fall was dismissed after a collision with Beauden Barrett but had his card rescinded the following week, leading to calls for more clarity around tackles in the air.
“If you’re asking about the specific incident, what came about afterwards was a TV angle that was made available to judiciary that we didn’t actually have as part of the Match Official team on the day.
We’ve always said, if there’s a mitigating factor around why something happens, it can bring the colour of a card down from a red to a yellow or a yellow to a PK (penalty-kick) or a PK to a play on.
“There was a mitigating factor in that particular action because of the interference in his lines of running, which we saw from the reverse angle. The TMO and the match officials on the day couldn’t clearly get that footage, so what they dealt with and from the footage they were given, they were correct…you had a player that wasn’t in a realistic position when he was competing for the ball and a player that came down very dangerously.
“That guideline is still the same,” adds Rolland.
The International Refs boss acknowledges that his officials will get things wrong from time to time, but he wants to be open with coaches about these decisions.
“Referees are being asked to make decisions on an ongoing basis and they’re gonna make mistakes and they not necessarily going to get it right all the time.
“But it’s very unforgiving. Players are allowed to make mistakes but referees are not allowed to make a mistake.”
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