World Rugby has thrown its weight behind match officials after it was reported in New Zealand that Aaron Smith’s try in the World Cup final was actually valid.
“As was already confirmed before the World Cup tournament, World Rugby does not publicly comment on the decisions of match officials,” the international rugby governing body said in a short statement, which was published on RugbyPass.
“We continue to support our remarkable match officials, who perform one of the most difficult tasks in professional sport to the best of their ability.”
According to the governing body, journalists, coaches and players also walk a dangerous path when they question decisions in public.
“We must be aware of the influence of criticism. As we have seen in recent months, criticism of match officials can unfortunately have far-reaching consequences – including online hate messages and threats.”
Stuff wrote on Tuesday that World Rugby apparently conceded behind closed doors that Smith’s try in the 54th minute of the World Cup final between the Springboks and the All Blacks should have been awarded.
The experienced scrumhalf – who played in his last game for the All Blacks – sailed over the Springbok goal line after Richie Mo’unga’s good run, but TV referee Tom Foley’s keen eyes spotted a tackle in the run-up to the try. .
He notified referee Wayne Barnes and a short time later it was decided that Smith’s three-point attempt did not count.
Stuff reports that the tackle took place four phases before Smith’s graceful dive; according to World Rugby protocol, a television official only has authority to look for a foul two phases before the final three.