World Rugby have admitted their error in allowing Marius Van Der Westhuizen attend England training this week…
Ahead of England vs Ireland on Saturday afternoon, tensions have been bubbling all week. With Ireland chasing the Grand Slam and England eager to avoid a third consecutive loss, the stakes are higher than usual for the fixture.
Earlier in the week, England brought Marius Van Der Westhuizen into their training session. The South African was scheduled to be the assistant referee at Twickenham on Saturday, and naturally this caused quite a stir, although it was fully within the rules.
South African official Marius Van Der Westhuizen was in the England camp yesterday refereeing their training session. On Saturday, he will be assistant referee for England v Ireland.
— Alex Lowe (@AlexMLowe) March 14, 2018
Eddie Jones was questioned on the issue today when facing the media, and hit back at suggestions that there was any wrongdoing on England’s behalf.
“It’s no advantage. We went through World Rugby, which is the proper channels so you’re asking the wrong person.”
World Rugby have acknowledged since this exchange earlier, that it was an “oversight” for Marius Van der Westhuizen to have been with England this week. Nigel Owens will replace him on the sideline at Twickenham. pic.twitter.com/F6Eu0TUbyC
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) March 15, 2018
However, since this afternoon’s press conference, World Rugby made a statement, conceding there was an “oversight” and that Nigel Owens will now stand in as assistant referee. They also made a ruling that closed the loophole which led to these events.
“The decision follows Marius’ attendance at an England training session this week. While greater dialogue and collaboration between match officials and teams (including attending team training on request) has been agreed by World Rugby and the teams, Marius should not have been involved given that he was a member of the match official team for the weekend’s match.
“World Rugby takes responsibility for this oversight and has taken the proactive decision to stand Marius down to avoid any additional unfair and unnecessary conjecture. Marius is an outstanding talent with a big international future and both he and his employer SARU fully support the decision.
“World Rugby has also clarified with teams that, in addition to the regular pre-match coach and referee meetings, senior elite teams will continue to have the opportunity to request that a member of the high-performance match official panel attends training providing that the individual is not a member of the match official team officiating that team at a later date within the current competition or test window.”