Fed up with being blamed for cancelling matches and inconsistent refereeing, World Rugby’s bosses have unloaded on their harshest critics, telling them they are the ones who are out of touch and need to change or leave the game altogether.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was not named but as one of the chief complainers about the record number of red cards dished out for foul play, the message from the top brass could not have been more direct — the coaches are as much to blame as the players for foul play.
Stream the Rugby World Cup 2019 on KAYO SPORTS. Every match Live & On-Demand on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial >
“Player welfare is our number one priority,” World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said.
“There will be diminishing red cards as coaches change. It is there to protect the players.”
Cheika was fuming after Reece Hodge received a three-week suspension for a high tackle on Peceli Yato that left the Fijian concussed and again after Samu Kerevi was penalised for leading with the forearm when he was running with the ball.
Plenty of other coaches, past players and fans agree with the outspoken Wallaby boss but Gosper said teams, including their coaches, will continue to pay the price if they don’t fall into line.
“It is right to punish the team despite the balance of the match at that time,” Gosper said. “This is one of the things that upholds the values of the game and the team should take the punishment as much as the players.
World Rugby also announced that the Scottish Rugby Union could be in hot water after threatening legal action if their final pool match against Japan was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis, which killed at least 66 people.
Three other matches were cancelled and while Scotland’s blockbuster with Japan went ahead with the hosts recording a famous victory, World Rugby was not impressed by Scotland’s threats when the game was still in jeopardy.
The tournament director Alan Gilpin confirmed the Scottish Rugby Union had been charged with misconduct over their comments.
“We are very careful that people behave appropriately and we have referred to an independent disputes committee the comments by the Scottish Rugby Union and it would be inappropriate to comment further,” he said.