A renewed commitment to closer collaboration between coaches and match officials and greater positivity on the field of play were among the outcomes from a highly productive meeting between the world’s top rugby coaches and elite referees in London last week.
The important forum, convened by World Rugby under the leadership of Chairman Bill Beaumont, Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot and Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey, provided an opportunity to take stock of the game and how it is currently being played and refereed.
Following another compelling RBS 6 Nations and ahead of a busy June window of tier one and tier two tests, a series of workshops, featuring trigger presentations from the coaches and referees, set out to achieve alignment on key areas of the game.
All tier one unions were represented through senior men’s team coaches with Michael Cheika (Australia), Allister Coetzee (South Africa), Greg Feek (Ireland), Ian Foster (New Zealand), Daniel Hourcade (Argentina), Rob Howley (Wales), Scott Johnson (Scotland), Eddie Jones (England), Guy Novès (France) and Conor O’Shea (Italy) contributing to fascinating discussions.
The match officials giving their perspective were Wayne Barnes, Nigel Owens, Jérôme Garcès and Jaco Peyper as well as Craig Joubert, who recently retired from international 15s refereeing and has now taken up a role in World Rugby helping to develop the next generation of top officials in both 15s and sevens.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper, Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan, Head of Technical Services Mark Harrington and High Performance 15s Match Officials Manager Alain Rolland were also in attendance, and supported by World Rugby’s game analysis department, there was plenty of video and statistical material to review.
Beaumont said: “This was an important forum to take stock after a busy international period to consider the state of the game, exchange views and highlight areas where closer alignment can be achieved. Full contributions set the tone for a hugely positive and constructive meeting and I would like to thank all the coaches, referees and their unions for their support of this process.”
Jeffrey added: “The meeting addressed a wide range of topics in relation to things that have come up lately, including in the 6 Nations. It was a really positive meeting with a willingness on all sides to work hard to make the game as good as it can be for players, coaches, referees and spectators and always with a focus on player welfare.
“I think it’s fair to say that the game is pretty good shape and doesn’t need much in the way of change. There seemed to be consensus that strict application of existing laws rather than making wholesale changes will yield a great result for all concerned.
“This will be a regular forum, and we will be looking to consider all levels of the game moving forward. I would like to thank everyone for their full and positive contribution.”