Europe's top referees and referee managers met in London on Thursday for the annual Northern Hemisphere IRB High Performance Referee Conference.
Under the central theme of global and consistent performance, the meeting provided an opportunity to consider refereeing best practice and establish key focus areas as momentum builds towards the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
With the RBS 6 Nations Championship reaching its conclusion last weekend, IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien reiterated the need for 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 Northern Hemisphere meeting is a key element of the referee feedback and training process and enables us to review performances as a team, consider the latest trends in the game and reiterate the key focus areas to ensure consistency.
"The meeting forms part of an integrated cross-hemisphere approach, with the same review process scheduled for Southern Hemisphere-based referees and referee managers in July in order to review performance and further promote global consistency of the application of law at Test and national competition level."
The IRB's high performance referees have agreed to be extra vigilant in the area of scrum resets and associated infringements at the elite level of the game where the issue is more prominent.
"The referees have been reminded of their obligation to penalise clear and obvious offences at the scrum in order to address the number of resets and to insist on a zero tolerance policy to players who fail to follow the referee's calling of the engagement procedure," added O'Brien.
They needed a 27-point winning margin against Scotland. They got that and more. The Ireland Women's team captured their second Women's RBS 6 Nations title in style at Broadwood Stadium - relive their Championship winning day in our exclusive video.
It was nail-biting, nerve shredding and epic! Relive Ireland's RBS 6 Nations Championship day from the squad's arrival at Murrayfield to the trophy presentation in our exclusive tunnel and pitch cam video.
Larissa Muldoon, now a two-time Women's RBS 6 Nations winner, is part of an all-Donegal half-back pairing for the Ireland Women. She spoke to Irish Rugby TV about the developing clubs in her own county.
Ireland Women's lock Orla Fitzsimons describes how she was a supporter in the stands for the 2013 Grand Slam success, and now, two years on, she has a Women's RBS 6 Nations winners' medal around her neck.
Niamh Briggs had a day to remember as she captained the Ireland Women's team to RBS 6 Nations title glory. The Waterford star, who scored the first try in the 73-3 win over Scotland, spoke to Irish Rugby TV afterwards.
Paying tribute to the Ireland supporters at Murrayfield, RBS 6 Nations winner Luke Fitzgerald said: "Thanks a million to the fans from the all guys. They were fantastic. We really felt their support out there, they were the '16th man' and helped us get over the line."
Sean O'Brien scored two tries and produced a man-of-the-match performance as Ireland beat Scotland 40-10 to finish top of the table and retain the RBS 6 Nations title. He spoke to Irish Rugby TV afterwards.
Speaking to Irish Rugby TV after the trophy presentation, RBS 6 Nations winner Robbie Henshaw said: "Words can't describe it...just the whole atmosphere, everyone in the stadium, just the way it ended out. It was pretty intense, the heart was rushing."
Enjoying the post-match celebrations at Murrayfield, RBS 6 Nations winner Rory Best said: "It's been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, the last hour. The crowd have been absolutely incredible. We're just delighted to give something back to them."