With the November Tests underway and a return to attacking rugby over the past year, IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien reiterated the importance of continued consistent and universal application of law in five key areas, in accordance with directives issued to all Unions in November 2009:
a) refereeing of offsides at the ruck
b) offside from kicks
c) illegal maul formation causing obstruction
d) slowing down of scrum engagement sequence
e) accuracy of application of the tackle law
O'Brien said: "The annual High Performance Referees meeting is a key element of the referee feedback and training process and enables us to review performances as a team, assess fitness objectives, consider the latest trends in the game and reiterate the key focus areas to ensure consistency.
"Referees and the world's top coaches have bought into the obligation to penalise clear and obvious offences in the five areas that are our top priority.
"Collectively we are committed to promoting global consistency of the application of law at Test and national competition level as we build towards the 2011 Rugby World Cup."
The scrum continues to be a major focus area and the IRB High Performance Referees were reminded of their obligation to take charge of the scrum sequence and to ensure strict and consistent application of all aspects of scrum law.
"The 2010 Tri Nations saw a 40% decrease in the number of scrum resets compared to the 2010 June Tier 1 Tests, so this area of the game is improving," added O'Brien.
"The coaches have all expressed their support of the referee leading the crouch, touch, pause, engage scrum sequence and sanctioning players who fail to follow the calling of the engagement procedure, particularly early engagement.
"The message to the referees is clear. We require greater consistency at the elite level and compliance is critical in this key area of the game."
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