CRAIG Joubert, the referee at the centre of the controversy over Scotland’s narrow Rugby World Cup quarter final loss to Australia last year, has revealed why he ran off the pitch at the final whistle.
South African official Joubert awarded a last-minute penalty to Australia for a Scottish player being offside at a lineout., with Vern Cotter’s men on the verge of making the semi finals for the first time.
But the penalty was converted, handing Australia a 35-34 victory, and Joubert was lambasted for racing off the pitch at full time, avoiding handshakes with any players and heading straight for the tunnel.
Joubert was branded ‘disrespectful’ following his actions, banned from speaking to the media and was eventually hung out to dry by World Rugby, who stated that the official had made the wrong decision and should have awarded a scrum for a knock-on, rather than a penalty.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Joubert said: “In hindsight, would I have reconsidered that decision [to run off the pitch]? Absolutely.”
Joubert revealed that he wanted to ‘avoid confrontation’, adding: “In my head was a desire to avoid any possible unseemly confrontation that would mar what had been a wonderful occasion.
“I had it in my mind somewhere that there had been an incident between the official and the England coaches in their match against Australia and I just didn’t want any of that to happen, not because I don’t understand the emotions of the moment for players and coaches, their desire for answers to questions, but just because I did not want that to become another possible incident.
“That was my thinking, not for myself, but for the situation.”
Joubert, who didn’t participate in the rest of the tournament, said that he met with Scotland head coach Vern Cotter and team captain Greig Laidlaw at the Six Nations match with Ireland in Dublin, and insisted there were no hard feelings.
“They were very natural and typical interactions which I enjoyed,” Joubert added.
This week, Joubert was appointed to the referees’ panel for the Sevens tournament at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics - just two months after he blundered at the Sydney Sevens by allowing eight players on the pitch for New Zealand.
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