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Top Referee Now Admits He Got It Wrong.

Top Referee Now Admits He Got It Wrong.

Nearly five years after a crucial Rugby World Cup
match top New Zealand referee Paddy O’Brien has admitted he supervised a disaster and made mistakes in a crucial game.

Nearly five years after a crucial Rugby World Cup
match top New Zealand referee Paddy O’Brien has admitted he supervised a disaster and made mistakes in a crucial game.

France defeated Fiji 28-19 in the pool game thanks in large part
to a
penalty try awarded to France which O’Brien — regularly lauded as
the world’s
best referee — now says he should not have given.
“Often you’ll make one bad mistake in a game, sometimes
two,” O’Brien says
his in just published biography, “Whistle While You Work”.

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“Collectively, what happened that afternoon was a disaster. I
couldn’t even
begin to account for what went wrong. You can’t defend the
O’Brien is quoted as saying.

The chapter on the match is entitled “Train smash at

France had arrived at Toulouse having beaten Canada and Namibia,
while the
Brad Johnstone-coached Fijians had scored 67 points against Namibia
and 38
against Canada. The winner would go onto the quarterfinal, the loser
into a
repechage against England.

O’Brien says now that he cannot identify any particular factor
that made
the game different for him.

The first incident in the game was “a crude head butt”
by a French player
that O’Brien and the touch judges missed.
Then O’Brien awarded the French a penalty and he placed the
ball on the
mark while an injured player was treated.
When he blew for play to restart a French player caught the
Fijians by
surprise, taking a quick tap and bolting through to the goal line to

O’Brien disallowed it: “You can’t do that,” he told the
player, “you
indicated you were taking a shot at goal. No try. You must take the
kick at

As the player argued, O’Brien realised his error as he noticed the
judges were stationary on the sidelines. They weren’t behind the
because O’Brien hadn’t directed them there.

O’Brien realised his concentration had lapsed and he had made a
In a rugged tackle a Fijian player dislodged the ball from a
defender and another openside flanker Seta Tawake grabbed the ball
and dived
over for a try.

O’Brien however presumed, and now admits he did not see, that the
ball had
gone forward and disallowed the try. He ordered a scrum, French ball.
television replay showed the Fijian try was legitimate.

Going from bad to worse, the game moved on with a series of
scrums to France pressing on Fiji.
O’Brien penalised Fiji a couple of times and yellow-carded prop
Veitayaki for pulling out of one scrum, but seemed to be controlling
the tense
situation well until he set another scrum.

It wheeled near Fiji’s posts and as it did, replacement French
hooker Marc
del Maso popped up in the front row and O’Brien ruled a penalty try
France, even though they had transgressed.

OBrien now says in the book the penalty try was not justified.
He says that he was totally relieved to blow the full time
whistle, knowing
that he had failed in his assignment.

The book reveals that the referee selectors dropped O’Brien from
games because of his mental state. Being dropped “hurt like

He says the Toulouse experience was the making of him as a referee.
“I know it’s no consolation to Brad Johnstone and the Fijian
boys but I
learnt so much from that game,” O’Brien says.

“Some teams I can think of would be bitter at what went on
that day, but
Brad simply said he’d seen Paddy referee better. The facts stand on
their own,
and I gave a poor performance.

“I realise now that I went to the World Cup for the wrong
reasons. Instead
of just enjoying what I was doing, I was anxiously working towards a
quarter-final appointment. That was a huge mistake.”AFP – 2004.