Craig Joubert's refereeing labelled 'shocking' by Australian commentator

Phil Kearns was unhappy with the South African match official over the weekend.

THE HIGHLANDERS ADVANCED into the final of Super Rugby with a five-try 35-17 win over Michael Cheika’s Waratahs on Saturday, but some people were unhappy with the refereeing of Craig Joubert.

The South African, part of the 12-man panel who will take charge of games at this year’s World Cup, came under particular flak from Fox Sports commentator Phil Kearns, a former Australia and Waratahs hooker.

Much of the controversy around Joubert’s display centred on the penalty try awarded to the Highlanders after the incident below.

Source: Rugby Skills/YouTube

Earlier this month, World Rugby underlined the need for referees to ensure that foul play involving high tackles and neck contact is strictly penalised.


While Jacques Potgieter’s actions were perhaps closer to borderline than other incidents, there was enough contact with the head of Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne to justify punishment of the South African back row.

Once Joubert ruled that Potgieter was guilty of foul play, the penalty try was the logical next step according to the laws of the game. While Nick Phipps did have Osborne’s right arm wrapped up, it’s hard to imagine him not scoring but for Potgieter’s intervention.


Finally, the combination of a penalty try and an act that involved a tackle around the neck and head area – which referees have only this month been advised to punish more “stringently” – led to Joubert dishing out the yellow card.


Did you agree with Joubert’s decision in this instance? What about his overall performance? Was it really “shocking,” as Kearns labelled it?

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Murray Kinsella

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