Owens retained for quarter-finals
October 3, 2011
The performance of Nigel Owens in Friday's match between South Africa and Samoa has been queried © Getty Images
Nigel Owens will be the man in the middle for New Zealand's Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with Argentina in Auckland on Sunday.
The Welsh referee was heavily criticised for his handling of Friday's Pool D clash between South Africa against Samoa, a game in which he controversially sent off Samoan fullback Paul Williams before yellow-carding Springboks captain John Smit in equally contentious circumstances. Samoa centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was particularly critical of Owens, accusing the official of bias and racism.
However, not only is Owens one of ten referees and two specialist Television Match Officials retained for the knockout stages of the tournament, he has been entrusted with the All Blacks' meeting with the Pumas. Meanwhile, South African Craig Joubert will take charge of Ireland's clash with Wales in Wellington, while Australian Steve Walsh will look after England against France in Auckland, with New Zealander Bryce Lawrence pencilled in for South Africa versus Australia in Wellington.
The six other referees kept on are Wayne Barnes (England), George Clancy (Ireland), Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Dave Pearson (England), Romain Poite (France) and Alain Rolland (Ireland) and Steve Walsh (Australia). Giulio De Santis (Italy) and Shaun Veldsman (South Africa) are the chosen TMOs.
IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien said: "Our focus has been firmly on consistency, penalising the clear and obvious and tackling the 'big five' areas. The extensive performance review of all 40 matches included coach, match official and performance reviewer feedback and we are very happy with the way that the group has worked together to collectively achieve the goals set.
"Accuracy in decision making is our top priority. We will continue to work as a unit to achieve the high standards that have collectively been set and maintain a zero-tolerance attitude towards infringements across the key areas of the Game. In that regard, I would also like to thank the coaches for their buy-in to the process during this Tournament."
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