Rugby will end up with two referees, NRL-style: Eddie Jones

Beth Newman Profile
by AAP & Beth Newman

Eddie Jones believes rugby union will eventually follow the NRL example and resort to having two referees oversee a match in response to its increasing intensity.

The England coach insists Owen Farrell's controversial injury-time tackle on Andre Esterhuizen in the 12-11 victory over South Africa on Saturday highlights the pressure officials are under.

Referee Angus Gardner consulted the TMO before declining to award the Springboks a kickable penalty that if landed would have changed the result.

Owen Farrell's tackle on Andre Esterhuizen was controversial. Photo: AFP"I just think the game is getting more intense. All the data shows that," Jones said.

"The game went for 100 minutes on the weekend with 39 minutes of ball in play. So there was 61 minutes where the players could recover, adding to the intensity of the hits, the quickness of the contact.

"We are asking one referee to do it the way they did it when blokes like me were playing - jogging round the field basically. And he's still doing the same job.

"So I think the referees are doing a great job. At some stage in the future, probably not in my time, they may have to look at two referees on the field. They do it in rugby league in Australia."

Jones' prediction came as Kurtley Beale called for more consistency from match officials when it comes to rulings on high or dangerous tackles.

Gardner's decision to not penalise Farrell for not using his arms, when a penalty kick could have seen the Springboks claim victory, has been hotly debated. 

There was plenty of commentary around the call, after World Rugby’s recent crackdown on high and dangerous tackles, including lowering the tackle height.

Asked what his reaction was to that call, Beale said there simply needed to be more consistency in that space.

“I reckon we just need consistency, I think it's pretty inconsistent at times,” he said.

“A couple of years ago, that's a red card or a yellow or a penalty.

“I think for me, if you can have that level of consistency throughout the whole thing, clarity will come into that.”

All Australia’s Super Rugby teams all have reasonably regular visits from referees but that is rarer when it comes to Test teams.

New high tackle laws lowering the tackle height to the nipple line, dubbed the ‘nipple law’. were trialled at the World Rugby U20s Trophy earlier this year.

Those laws were widely criticised the global body has since moved away from that with a shift to a high tackle warning system, also trialled in the U20s,

World Rugby medical officer Martin Raftery said in September that the ‘nipple law’ trial showed the law was impractical to officiate.

“They said it was very difficult to do on on the ground, just to actually identify those high tackles consistently,” he said at the time.

“It’s very difficult, hopefully it will have an impact but we don’t know if it will because it’s just too difficult to implement.”

The Wallabies take on Wales in Cardiff on Saturday November 10, kicking off at 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport and SBS.