12 Sep 2011

IRB backs referees in Wales penalty controversy

3:36 pm on 12 September 2011

Rugby World Cup organisers have backed the match officials who disallowed a seemingly on-target penalty by Wales in their one-point loss to South Africa in Wellington on Sunday.

Welsh players, and many spectators, thought fullback James Hook's 15th minute penalty appeared to pass just inside the right hand upright, but the assistant referees did not agree.

Hook gestured to referee Wayne Barnes in the hope he might check with the television official, as allowed, but he declined.

The International Rugby Board said on Monday that the three officials had followed the correct procedure in determining whether or not to refer the penalty to the television official for review.

"Under protocol, the referee may consult the assistant referees or the television match official (TMO) if he is unsure as to whether a penalty kick, drop goal or conversion has been successful," the IRB said in a statement.

"During the match in question, the match official team felt at the time that there was no need to consult the TMO following a Wales penalty kick as they were confident that the kick was not successful."

South Africa went on to come from 16-10 down to snatch a late victory with a Francois Hougaard try.

Wales had other opportunities to win the game, but flyhalf Rhys Priestland missed a drop goal attempt from in front while Hooks also missed a late penalty.