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Following World Rugby’s extraordinary statement about the standard of refereeing in the Rugby World Cup earlier this week, all eyes will be on Angus Gardner during today’s meeting of Ireland and Japan.

The Australian referee was highly criticised following his performance during the opening round clash between France and Argentina as the Northern Hemisphere side were penalised 12 times, including a number of ‘final warnings’ yet no card was issued.

Gardner took charge of Ireland’s game with Wales during the Six Nations and earlier this week, head coach Joe Schmidt made no secret of his disappointment in Gardner’s performance that day as he penalised Ireland 12 times.

“Last time we had Angus, it wasn’t great for us,” said Schmidt. “We didn’t play particularly well but we didn’t feel we got a lot of the rub of the green from Angus either.

“I think if you look back at the scrum, we actually went straight through the middle of the Welsh scrum to get a turnover ball very early in the game and then when they ran around the corner we get no receipt [of penalties] from that and they were given penalty rewards, which was incredibly frustrating.

“I think that the officials are going to be as nailed-on as they possibly can be and Angus is no different from any other official this weekend. They’re going to be looking to be as accurate as they possibly can be, and I think that’s the whole team of four. I don’t think you ever end up talking about just a ref.”

Prior to Saturday’s kick-off in Shizuoka Stadium, RTE commentator’s Hugh Cahill and Donal Lenihan piled more pressure on the referee:

“He’s under pressure which is unusual for World Rugby to come out and make a statement about referees”, said Lenihan.

“I thought he was really poor in that game [between] Argentina and France, no yellow cards, France gave away 15 penalties, Argentina five, yet no yellow card. I just fear that he might go the other way today, that you could see players getting easier yellow cards.

“It is a concern, there’s been a lot of focus on referees so we’ll just have to see how it develops.”


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