Joubert says World Cup penalty wrong

Given the choice, referee Craig Joubert wouldn’t repeat his hasty run from the field after the contentious Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Scotland last October.

Scotland was moments from making the semi-finals for the first time, with “Scotland, Scotland” ringing out around a packed Twickenham, when Joubert gave Australia a penalty for a Scottish player being offside at a lineout.

The Wallabies made the last-minute kick, winning a classic match 35-34.

But to most, Joubert’s crime was not bothering with customary post-match handshakes.

Instead, the South African rapidly headed for the tunnel, drawing resounding criticism for running away and being disrespectful to the sport.

He wasn’t allowed to speak to the media and the following day World Rugby, with the benefit of slow-motion replays, stated he made the wrong decision; there should have been a scrum for a knock-on, not a penalty.

“In hindsight,” Joubert told the Daily Telegraph in Friday editions, “would I have reconsidered that decision? Absolutely.”

“In my head was a desire to avoid any possible unseemly confrontation that would mar what had been a wonderful occasion,” Joubert said.

“I had it in my mind somewhere that there had been an incident between the official and the England coaches (Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, for which both were reprimanded) 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 ref in the rest of the tournament, said Scotland coach Vern Cotter called him two days later to say he understood how difficult it was to make decisions in real time, without the help of the Television Match Official.

When he was in Dublin to run the line for the Ireland-Scotland match in the Six Nations in March, he met Cotter over coffee before the match and captain Greig Laidlaw for a beer afterward.

“They were very natural and typical interactions which I enjoyed,” Joubert told the Daily Telegraph.

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