CRAIG Joubert, the referee under fire for his controversial last-gasp penalty award for Australia that saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Scotland in the Rugby World Cup has revealed he ran off the pitch to avoid a confrontation.
South African official Joubert was slammed for racing off the pitch as soon as he had blown the final whistle on Australia’s 35-34 victory in the quarter final clash at Twickenham.
And World Rugby chief Brett Gosper joked that the referee ‘may have needed the bathroom’ when interviewed about Joubert’s dash during a radio interview.
World Rugby also confirmed on Monday night that Joubert had wrongly awarded the penalty, confirming that the correct decision would have been to award a scrum to the Wallabies - but there was no explanation for the official’s swift exit.
And the Daily Mail are reporting that Joubert admitted to his bosses that he had made a beeline for the changing rooms after detecting a ‘mood of tension’ in the air.
World Rugby has since been criticised for their decision to announce Joubert’s error, with former Australian international David Campese and current coach Michael Cheika defending the referee.
Campese said: “I have been in games where referees have made real blunders but whoever put that statement out saying the referee got it wrong should be shot as that is saying the referees are bad.
“One of the biggest problems in world rugby is trying to get referees. And if they’re going to continue to cop abuse every game it will mean we will wake up one day and there will be no referees.”
Cheika added: “I genuinely feel for Craig Joubert. It’s so unfair. No other referee has had this stuff put out there like that and he’s a very good referee.”
Ex-England hooker Brian Moore also joined those condemning World Rugby, saying: “This is a really pernicious element to what World Rugby has done. They’ve taken all these angles and all these slow-mos and they’ve said ‘We’ve looked at all these things and we’ve decided you should have decided that.’
“If [Joubert] had been there at the World Rugby meeting he could have said ‘I didn’t have the benefit of the replays. You’re telling me I should have made a decision on evidence which I haven’t got and, by the way, you said I wasn’t allowed to have the TMO. So what do you expect me to do?’
“It’s really bad.”
The Scottish Rugby Union are yet to make any comment on the incident and subsequent fall-out.