Craig Joubert’s decision to award a penalty against Scotland in the final minutes of their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia broke a nation’s heart.
This was the view, among thousands, of Borders’ international referee Malcolm Changleng having had time to reflect on an epic game which saw the Scots beaten by a single point.
“It is clear that Joubert was wrong in his key decision making,” said the Galashiels whistler who officiated at the 2007 RWC in France.
“It was drilled in to us then that you do not give penalties in the last five minutes that are 50-50 calls. You needed to be 100% sure of the penalty. In this instance Joubert has broken a nation’s heart because he panicked under pressure and forgot this basic principle.”
Scotland were leading by a point when Jon Welsh was ruled deliberately offside in the 78th minute for playing the ball after a knock-on by a team-mate. Joubert awarded the penalty, which Bernard Foley kicked to win the game, but World Rugby said the Wallabies should have been awarded a scrum instead because their scrum-half Nick Phipps had touched the ball.
After the match, Scotland coach Vern Cotter said the television match official (TMO) “would have taken away any doubt”. But World Rugby regulations only permit the use of the TMO on foul play or to determine the legitimacy of tries and kicks.
Mr Changleng continued: “He was right not to go to the TMO but wrong in his decision making process.
“I would argue that he could have bought himself time by asking for a TMO review because the Australian line-out players touched the Scottish lifters instigating a review for potential foul play. As a TMO, you would dismiss this as not having a material effect on the Scottish lifting, but Joubert could have seen the big screen reviews and restarted the game with an Australian scrum.
“Unfortunately, we will never know the outcome of the potential last Australian attacking play,” he concluded.