French referee Pascal Gauzere has admitted he made two errors in Wales’ controversial Six Nations win over England on Saturday, according to Joel Jutge, World Rugby’s head of match officials.
Gauzere made two crucial decisions in the first half in Cardiff which resulted in Wales scoring tries. The home side went on to win the match 40-24.
First he allowed Wales to take a penalty, from which they scored in the corner, while the England players were still in a huddle that he had ordered.
He then allowed Liam Williams’ try to stand in spite of a blatant knock-on from wing Louis Rees-Zammit.
Jutge told French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique on Monday that Gauzere had acknowledged to him that he got both decisions wrong.
“I think one has to be transparent, say what one thinks rather than let things fester,” said Jutge.
“In this game there were two unfortunate incidents, which were not simple to manage. I know from having spoken to him by phone on Sunday morning that Pascal Gauzere recognises that himself.”
The first try came after 16 minutes when Gauzere had instructed England captain Owen Farrell to talk to his players about their discipline.
As they were huddled, Gauzere called “time on”, allowing Wales to restart. Flyhalf Dan Biggar kicked crossfield to where there were no England players for Josh Adams to score in the corner.
“From the moment when the referee says ‘time on’ the game can recommence,” Jutge explained.
“Except that it was on him (Gauzere) to make sure the English had significant time to reorganise themselves, because it was him who had asked the captain to speak to his players.”
Gauzere and his TMO then decided Rees-Zammit had not knocked on in the lead-up to Williams’ try.
“The ball was not under the control of the Welsh wing and went forward on to his thigh,” Jutge said.
“In the laws such as they’re written, there isn’t this notion of loss of control, that’s why this situation lends itself to confusion.
“But the reality is that if (Gauzere) had blown up for a knock-on, no one would have been able to complain.
“It’s one of the perverse effects of the TMO, that we sometimes have a tendency to look too hard with a microscope.
“There is a balance to be struck and in this case, a simple bit of common sense would have sufficed.
“There is a loss of control, the ball goes forward, so it’s a knock-on. Pascal looked at the situation on Sunday morning and he is the first to admit it.
“When you make a mistake, it’s best to own up and be transparent. It doesn’t change the fact that he is an excellent international referee.”