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Steve Hansen accepts that rugby union referees will always make mistakes

Published 22/10/2015

South African referee Craig Joubert was caught up in controversy during Scotland's World Cup quarter-final against Australia
South African referee Craig Joubert was caught up in controversy during Scotland's World Cup quarter-final against Australia

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen believes that refereering mistakes are a fact of life in rugby union.

Hansen's comments follow the controversy that marred last Sunday's World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Scotland.

World Rugby faced strong condemnation from all elements of the game for its admission that South African referee Craig Joubert blundered in awarding Australia their decisive penalty against Scotland.

Rugby union's governing body received fierce criticism for publicly stating that Joubert should have awarded a scrum instead of a penalty in the nail-biting closing moments at Twickenham.

Wallabies fly-half Bernard Foley kicked the three points to snatch a 35-34 victory which robbed Scotland of a place in the last four, but the call for accidental offside was incorrect.

Joubert, who refereed the 2011 World Cup final when New Zealand beat France 8-7, will not be involved in this weekend's semi-finals.

Speaking on Thursday, Hansen said: "The referees make mistakes. As long as they take a breath, they will make them, because players do and coaches do.

"So if you can accept that, the best way to avoid that mistake being the game-winning mistake, for want of a better term, is to make sure you are in front by enough for it not to be.

"Quite often, when a mistake is made and it's right at the end of the game, it's obvious for everyone to see and we get carried away with it.

"Sometimes they (referees) make mistakes at the beginning of the game that have a massive effect on the result, but no one sees them because they are not caught in the emotion of that last penalty goal or whatever it might have been.

"I've always said it is a really tough game to referee at the moment, and we've got to find ways of making it simpler for them to get that right.

"I know you are alluding to Joubert but I don't think it's Craig that is the problem but the system."

Joubert was not allowed to consult the television match official to assess the contentious passage of play.

And reflecting on the use of technology, Hansen added: "When you've got technology that sits there and everyone says 'why didn't he use it?' Well, he couldn't use it, and that's the problem.

"And World Rugby has to fix that problem. If he could have used that, then we would have got a different decision. End of story.

"Referees have made mistakes from the time the game was first refereed, and they will make them again on Saturday and Sunday and probably in the final. You've just got to accept it."

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