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The great Rugby World Cup controversies

Published 19/10/2015

A dejected Wales captain Sam Warburton after being sent off during the 2011 World Cup semi-final against France in Auckland
A dejected Wales captain Sam Warburton after being sent off during the 2011 World Cup semi-final against France in Auckland

South African referee Craig Joubert is firmly in the World Cup spotlight following a controversial finale to an immense quarter-final clash between Scotland and Australia at Twickenham on Sunday.

Joubert's contentious late penalty award gave Australia a chance to win the game, with fly-half Bernard Foley's successful kick edging Australia home 35-34 and sparking an outcry among rugby union fans, former players and coaches.

It is not the first Rugby World Cup controversy, though, during the event's 28-year history. Here, Press Association Sport looks back at five headline events.

ENGLAND'S 16th PLAYER

England briefly had 16 players on the pitch during a 2003 pool game against Samoa in Melbourne when Dan Luger was sent on to join the action while Mike Tindall remained on the field receiving treatment. England, who went on to win the tournament. received a £10,000 fine after being hit by a misconduct charge..

WHAT'S YOUR POISON?

One of sport's great conspiracy theories surrounds the apparent food-poisoning suffered by several New Zealand players on the eve of the 1995 World Cup final against host nation South Africa in Johannesburg. A number of All Blacks were taken ill, and New Zealand head coach Laurie Mains alleged sabotage of food and drink at the team hotel. Nothing, though, was ever proved.

WARBURTON SEES RED

Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent off after just 17 minutes of a 2011 World Cup semi-final against France in Auckland. Warburton, who had been one of the tournament's outstanding players, received his marching orders from Irish referee Alain Rolland following a tackle on French wing Vincent Clerc. Most observers viewed a yellow card as sufficient punishment, but Warburton departed and Wales lost 9-8.

DURBAN DELUGE

Torrential rain effectively made Kings Park in Durban unplayable for the 1995 World Cup semi-final between hosts South Africa and France. The game, though, was somehow given the go-ahead, but France were denied when forward Abdel Benazzi went over for what appeared to be a legitimate try. But referee Derek Bevan thought otherwise, and the Springboks prevailed 19-15.

WAYNE'S WORLD

New Zealand made a shock 2007 World Cup quarter-final exit against France in Cardiff. Les Bleus won 20-18, but English referee Wayne Barnes missed a forward pass during the move that led to France's critical second touchdown, while his general handling of the match sparked an outcry among disgruntled Kiwis, whose criticism of the official bordered on hysteria.

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