Referees will be up to World Cup pace

Last updated 05:00 08/09/2011

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Referees boss Paddy O'Brien says the Rugby World Cup officials will be the fittest in history and he has the data to back up his claims.

Speaking after meeting with all 20 participating coaches yesterday O'Brien said his ten cup referees would focus on five key areas and would officiate to the rules rather than any vision for how the game should be played.

"The important thing was the assistants and referees bought into what we want to see at this World Cup," he said.

"We will strictly enforce all the laws at the breakdown. That includes players rolling away, releasing the ball and entry at the tackle area.

"We are going to be strict on off sides around the fringes of the ruck, the tackle, and the breakdown and also off side from kicks.

"I think you will all agree if we can give team's space and quick ball they will be able to play the game they wish.

"Whether that is to keep it in the forwards, play a kicking game or an attacking game it is not the role of the referee to decide how the game is to e played, it is the role of the referee to create the environment for a team to play the way they wish to."

O'Brien then indicated his selected team had trained the house down in the build up to the tournament and would not be left behind by the pace of the modern game.

"We have the ten best referees in the world at the tournament. We are confident of that. They have arrived in the best physical condition we have ever had the world's referees in and we have the data to back that up."

He also made a plea to fans not to place unrealistically high expectations on the officials, who were no different to the players and coaches involved.

"We have asked our referees to enjoy the tournament. We are not going to get everything right. There will be mistakes. Coaches will make mistakes, players will make mistakes and referees will make mistakes.

"We've asked our referees to be accurate at the clear and obvious mistakes and infringements in the game then I'm sure we will have a tournament which you and I will enjoy."

The on-field officials will have the backing of five citing commissioners, appointed by the IRB.

Because of its condensed nature the definition of a suspension changes to meet the practicalities of short turnarounds. A one "week" suspension will, in effect, mean one "match".

Three yellow cards will spark an automatic judicial hearing, while red cards will be heard within 36 hours of the incident. All players will have the right of appeal.

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- The Dominion Post

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