IRB play down Walsh row
March 20, 2013
The IRB are reviewing the performances of all the referees in this year's Six Nations - including that of Steve Walsh in Cardiff last weekend © Getty Images
The International Rugby Board has refused to be drawn into the debate surrounding referee Steve Walsh's handling of the Wales' Six Nations victory over England last weekend.
Wales wrapped up the Six Nations crown with a stunning 30-3 victory over their title rivals at the Millennium Stadium but England were angered by Walsh's performance with forwards coach Graham Rowntree singling out his handling of the scrum and the breakdown as major areas of concern.
PA Sport report that an IRB spokesman would not comment specifically on Rowntree's comments on Walsh's performance, other than to confirm that referee's manager Joel Jutge is currently reviewing all the Six Nations matches.
"We do not comment on specific individual performances of match officials but it is true to say that a clear feedback process operates between the IRB referees manager, match officials and the teams for all Test matches," the spokesman said. "As with any match, the performance is subject to review and is taken into consideration for future Test match appointments.
"The IRB match official selection committee meets four times a year and makes selections for the next international window with all performances reviewed in advance of selection. This system allows for movement in and out of the panel based on form and rewards the top performers and young referees who have graduated through the performance pathway ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England."
Walsh awarded a total of 12 penalties and four free-kicks against England, who won just one of four scrums on their own ball while Wales are said to have admitted privately after the match that they collapsed the scrum on six occasions but it was England, unable to hold them up, who were penalised.
The New Zealand-born referee is no stranger to controversy having been suspended for three days in 2003 following a touchline altercation with the then England fitness coach Dave Reddin. He was also banned for four months in 2005 after being found guilty of verbally abusing British & Irish Lions winger Shane Horgan.
Walsh later lost his place on the IRB elite referees panel in 2007 but had been reinstated by the time he was sacked by the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2009 for an alcohol-related incident. A relocation to Australia was followed by a return to full time officiating with his performances rewarded with the honour of taking charge of the 2012 Super Rugby Final.
However, more recently he found himself at the centre of a fresh row with Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett questioning Walsh's decision making during his side's Super Rugby defeat to the Reds. The game included an apparent push by Walsh on Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith with SANZAR head of referees Lyndon Bray playing down the incident but admitting his official "got a couple wrong".
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