This World Cup highlights rugby’s impossible job: being the referee

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In France, the referees have had two main roles: managing the game and then taking the blame from the team that lost it

You have to be a strange sort to want to be a tighthead prop, playing lock requires a certain animal disposition and scrum-halves seem to me to need a lunatic streak, but the worst job on the pitch, the one no one wants to take on, is to be the referee. Really. Numbers are declining around the world, and the Unions in England, New Zealand and Australia have all launched grassroots recruitment campaigns in the past couple of years to try to lure more people into doing it. It is not a tempting proposition. In this World Cup the referees have had two main jobs, one is to manage the game, the other is to take the blame from the team that lost it.

World Rugby has actually employed a data science and monitoring company to better protect their referees from all the online abuse they receive, although, presumably, the only real way for them to be safe is to stay the hell away from the internet. Ben O’Keeffe and Angus Gardner were both trending online after the semi-finals last weekend. Players and coaches, press and pundits, pick over their decisions, but it’s the public who really pile into them. O’Keeffe was roundly booed before kick-off in the second semi, and there are already wild accusations swirling around Wayne Barnes’s vendetta against South Africa ahead of the final.

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Written by Andy Bull in Paris
This news first appeared on under the title “This World Cup highlights rugby’s impossible job: being the referee”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.