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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

Saturday's assistant referee Van der Westhuizen involved in England training

Ireland have declined to comment on the development.

IRELAND HAVE DECLINED to comment on Marius van der Westhuizen’s involvement in England training yesterday.

The South African official will be one of the assistant referees for Saturday’s Six Nations clash between Ireland and England at Twickenham.

referee Marius Van der Westhuizen Van der Westhuizen refereeing Ireland against Canada in 2016. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

As reported by The Times in the UK, Van der Westhuizen was part of England’s training session at their Pennyhill training base yesterday.

While international teams regularly invite referees into their training camps during tournaments and tours – and have been encouraged to do so by World Rugby – the involvement of Van der Westhuizen with England so close to Saturday’s pivotal fixture has been met with surprise in many quarters.

The42 understands that World Rugby is not pleased with the development and that rugby’s governing body, who make the refereeing appointments for the Six Nations, could also speak to England’s coaching staff to ensure this will not happen again.

World Rugby has made it clear to match referees that they cannot train with teams they will directly adjudicate in the current Test match window or tournament, and although it is not believed that such stipulations are in place for assistant referees, that would seem likely to change now.

Ireland have invited Irish referee Johnny Lacey into their training camp on a number of occasions during this Six Nations, including for their session at Carton House yesterday.

Ireland declined to comment on Van der Westhuizen’s involvement in England training when contacted by The42, although head coach Joe Schmidt is sure to be asked for his thoughts on the issue during his scheduled press conference at Carton House tomorrow.

World Rugby and Six Nations have both been contacted by The42 for official comment but have not yet responded.

Originally published at 11.51

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Murray Kinsella

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