These are the evening rugby headlines for Monday 23 October.
Gatland questions ‘strange’ appointment.
Warren Gatland has questioned the decision to appoint Ben O’Keefe as referee for South Africa’s semi-final win over England after he was criticized for his performance in the Springboks’ previous match.
O’Keefe had already officiated two big matches for South Africa at the World Cup finals, having been named as a midfielder in their pool stage defeat to Ireland and their impressive quarter-final victory over France. His performance in that second match led to him being widely criticized by the tournament hosts, with Antoine Dupont claiming that the officiating “was not up to par”.
However, he was, in Gatland’s words, “thrown straight back into the Parisian fire” when he took charge of the semi-final at the Stade de France a week later, and was booed before kick-off. The Springboks won the match with a crucial penalty kick in the closing stages of the contest, the award of which also sparked lengthy post-match debate.
The Wales coach said he “felt for O’Keefe” before the match, having seen first-hand how the pressure got to the official during the Lions’ 2021 tour of South Africa.
“I felt sympathy for Ben O’Keefe on Saturday night,” Gatland wrote in his column. Telegraph. “He is a young man gaining experience, and given that he was criticized for his management of France’s defeat to South Africa, when Antoine Dupont said he did not accept the challenge, it was difficult to see him being booed at Dupont Stadium.” France even before the match started.
“Ben is a good guy. He played the second Test on our Lions tour of South Africa in 2021. This was just after a video of Rassie Erasmus was leaked on social media criticizing the officiating of our first Test win in Cape Town. I have no doubt he was impressed With that.
“When the video was leaked after the first Lions Test, I was listening to the communications during the match and was able to hear on at least four or five occasions when Ben asked Springbok captain Siya Kolisi if he was okay,” he added. “I’ve never heard that before in a Test match. That, to me, was a direct result of the pressure he was under because of the video that was put out after the first Test. I think he was very traumatized by the whole experience.”
“I think he and the assistant referees were reluctant to make the calls and that’s just human nature and evidence of the pressure they are under. Refereeing is a very difficult job.”
Read more: World Rugby announces an official investigation into the England-South Africa incident
Read more: The England star says the Springboks “don’t respect us” as a TV interview reveals tensions
Sexton linked with Ireland return
Johnny Sexton has been linked with a return to Ireland for the 2024 Six Nations after his World Cup dreams were dashed by his side’s quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.
The magician announced he would retire from playing after the tournament, but his final match came sooner than he had hoped, as Andy Farrell’s men crashed out of the tournament after a scintillating outing in Paris.
But despite his playing career ending somewhat prematurely, the 38-year-old can now return to the national team as a coach, amid strong rumors that Mike Catt will step down as Ireland coach following his axing.
According to the Sunday Times, Catt is set to leave Farrell’s backroom squad after moving his family to England, with his place in the Six Nations squad yet to be confirmed. If he leaves, Sexton is expected to fill the position with the IRFU seemingly keen to make the most of his experience.
Sexton, who already has a job away from rugby with the Ardagh Group, had always planned to start working after his retirement but admitted earlier this year that he could consider a move into coaching.
“Never say never. You never know what life is going to throw at you,” he said in an interview with the Irish Times.
Return of the Wasps plot
The former Premier League giants have announced their intention to explore the possibility of establishing a permanent home in Kent.
The club, which was removed from the Premier League last year after falling into administration, says they are “actively engaging” with Sevenoaks District Council to identify a suitable location.
In the short term, Wasps plan to begin their recovery by playing and training at Sixways, home of Worcester Warriors, one of the other three clubs, along with London Irish, who failed to start the 2022/3 season.
“Having faced significant challenges in terms of organization and finance, the club has stood firm in its determination to revive Wasps at the highest possible level,” Wasps said in a statement.
“As the development progresses through the planning stages, Wasps will explore temporary facilities to support its operations in Kent.
“While the club is intent on establishing a base in the south-east of England, the club has also accepted the option to use Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium for training and playing purposes, without replacing Worcester Warriors RFC in any way, and has already committed to assisting in their return to the Premier League.” Competitive rugby.”
A potential move to Kent would mark another geographical shift for the club, which played most of its 156-year history in London, before moving to High Wycombe in 2002 and Coventry in 2014.
All blacks learn their lesson
New Zealand defense coach Scott McLeod says the All Blacks have learned their lesson from their 35-7 defeat at the hands of South Africa two months ago as they prepare to face them again in the World Cup final.
Ian Foster’s men were outplayed in the final warm-up game before the tournament as they suffered their heaviest ever defeat to the Springboks at Twickenham, having been let down in part by their lack of discipline. Scott Barrett and Sam Keane were sent to the foul basket in the opening 20 minutes, and Barrett then showed a second yellow card before half-time.
But McLeod says his team is now wiser to the experience. Asked whether the August result before the final match was an incentive for them, he said: “Not in terms of motivation, but in terms of scenarios and how to respond.
“So we learned from that, especially when we had 13 players, how we want to play the game. It showed throughout the tournament that we had a few cards and I think we showed that we learned through that.”
Asked what he had learned from South Africa’s performance in France, he added: “They are never out of the woods. They come from a country where they are tough and they know how to keep fighting. They showed that in the last World Cup.” also.”
“Definitely their kicking game [is a challenge]. We haven’t had a lot of that, so that’s something we’ll build into his week. They are very good at getting in the air and recovering the ball. When they get it, they put it in the space back there, spread it wide and play from there. They scored tries from their aerial goals. We will build our details around how to win those moments.”
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