England unhappy with Walsh's performance

Last updated 14:29 21/03/2013
Steve Walsh
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
ENGLAND WHINGE: England forwards coach Graham Rowntree is ‘‘annoyed and frustrated’’ by the performance of former NZ referee Steve Walsh.

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England forwards coach Graham Rowntree is "annoyed and frustrated" by the performance of former New Zealand rugby referee Steve Walsh in Wales' 30-3 Six Nations win last weekend and is taking his concerns to the International Rugby Board.

Rowntree, a former England prop, was bamboozled by the way Walsh, who has been refereeing under the Australian banner since 2011, controlled the breakdown and scrum as England's title hopes collapsed at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

He told reporters in England that he would seek "clarification" from the IRB on Walsh's performance, having watched replays of the match, which secured Wales back-to-back Six Nations titles and denied their close rivals a Grand Slam.

Frenchman Joel Jutge, a former test referee, is now the IRB's referees chief.

"I sat up on Saturday night and watched the game again forensically," Rowntree said.

"I'm annoyed at a lot of the outcomes and I will be speaking to the IRB to get some clarification about it.

"With Joel Jutge now in charge of the IRB referees, he's very keen for an open forum and a very honest review process from the coaches and the referees.

"In most of the games, I've submitted glowing reports on referees, but on this occasion we were frustrated by a lot of the outcomes and I will be speaking to Joel to get some clarification [on the] breakdown and scrum.

"I spoke to Steve after the game. We both agreed that we would go away and have a look at the game again. Having watched it, I need clarification.

"A lot of those decisions were big, game momentum-changing decisions."

England were repeatedly penalised at the scrum and there have been reports suggesting Welsh players privately admitted they had collapsed the scrum on six occasions.

England also had complaints about the legality of the turnover that led to the first of two second-half tries for Wales wing Alex Cuthbert.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster described it as the "tipping point" of the match.

An IRB spokesman declined to comment when invited to by The Guardian newspaper but confirmed refereeing performances in the Six Nations would be taken into account when appointments were made for the mid-year tests in the southern hemisphere.

England's concerns have been generally viewed as "whining" in Wales.

Walsh, 40, was sacked by the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2009 after his drunken arrival at a refereeing conference, but he moved to Sydney and resumed fulltime refereeing in 2011 under the Australian Rugby Union's banner.

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He refereed England's 19-12 World Cup quarterfinal loss to France in Auckland that year.

- Stuff

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