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IRB issues warning

The International Rugby Board has issued a stark warning to coaches and players not to lambast referees in public.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset has written to unions across the game reminding them of their responsibility to maintain "discipline, integrity and respect" when commenting on match official performance.

The RBS 6 Nations kicks off on Saturday, with Wales hosting Italy and England travelling to France.

Lapasset's timing is by no means coincidence, this letter designed as a pre-emptive strike to help reduce emotive reactions in a tournament full of fire and passion.

Lapasset has moved to remind international bosses published criticism with the potential to bring the game into disrepute will spark tournament organiser and IRB investigations.

"Rugby values its culture of respect for the opposition and match officials, which is at the very heart of the Game," said Lapasset in a statement released by the IRB.

"But there has been a slow increase in the level and intensity of public criticism of match officials and their performances from coaches and players.

"Match officials, like players, do make mistakes, but it is important that we work with our unions to ensure that match official performance is discussed within the appropriate and established framework for feedback and appraisal that operates between coaches, match officials and the IRB."

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