Wallabies and Springboks meet with referee

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies and Springboks have met with referee Nigel Owens ahead of Saturday night’s Brisbane Test.

Referee meetings have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, with the Wallabies filing a letter of complaint to World Rugby after alleging the All Blacks had met with Romain Poite ahead of the Wellington Test, without following proper protocol.

Under World Rugby regulations, if a team requests a meeting with the referee, the same opportunity must be extended to their opponents.

Steve Hansen announced his Rugby Championship squad on Monday. Photo: Getty ImagesAll Blacks coach Steve Hansen denied the meeting, but said they had met with assistant referee Jaco Peyper for a review, something that does not have to be communicated to their opposition.

Once the Springboks requested a meeting, both Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and captain Stephen Moore accepted the offer to do the same, though it’s unclear whether both teams met Owens at the same time, something that isn’t compulsory.

Assistant coach Stephen Larkham said they had opted to take the meeting this time around, after South Africa’s invitation, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent policy going forward.

“We spoke about that after the last Test as well, just trying to get a better relationship with the referees and understand what they want from our captain on the field,” he said.

“We’re obviously keen to create a better relationship there.”

Nigel Owens has met with South Africa and Australia. Photo: Getty imagesLarkham said there wasn’t anything specific they were wanting to change but were looking to enhance their overall relationship with the officials.

“I think it depends which game you’re talking about,” he said.

“The game against the All Blacks over in New Zealand, that was an anomaly.

“I don’t think the referees who were involved with that would be happy with the way that they handled that game.

“It wasn’t something that Steve did during the game, it was preconceived before he went in there. It was two minutes into the game and he wouldn’t talk to him – well, it wasn’t that but it was pretty close to the start of the game.

“We’re looking at all avenues just to get a better relationship there.”

Stephen Moore met with Nigel Owens today. Photo: Getty ImagesMoore said he was glad the regulations had been adhered to this time around, but wasn’t preoccupied with the referee discussion.

“It’s nice to be invited to meet the ref, it’s important,” he said.

“Obviously it’s been something that’s been spoken about but I think you can look into it a bit too much with that stuff, we’ll just prepare as best we can for all parts of the game this weekend’s and the referees will do as good a job as they can.”

Moore said his communication with referees was being reviewed often, but dismissed the notion that there was a preconceived bias against the Wallabies.

“You certainly look at it every week, no doubt that’s part of reviewing your overall performance is looking at that part of the game as well and it’s no different this time around,” he said.

“We’ve had Nigel Owens a lot so we know what type of referee he is and how he referees the game and every week you get things you need to work on as a team and individually so we’ve gone and done that.”