Thorb's Referee Rankings: Semifinals Posted over 12 years ago

Photo: Jeanfrancois Beausejour, Monaco



  1. The scrums became difficult following the sending off of Welsh no . 7, Warburton. Without showing any obvious preferences, Rolland showed a very experienced control of a difficult situation.
  2. Wales,understandably, had 6 scrum resets and Rolland showed patience with just 3 scrum penalties (2-1 to Wales).
  3. Allowed a fair contest with 4 penalties each at the breakdown.
  4. The entire “structure” of the game changed with the legitimate, (if painful for the Welsh) red carding of Warburton which was to the letter of the law. Ifs and buts aside, the Law is that the referee is to start at a red card and work back. He may have given himself a bit of time if, as they sometimes do, he wandered over to the assistant referee and asked his opinion and perception. The referee is not obliged to act on the assistant referees view, but it would have given him time to consider his options.
  5. It did not help that Clerc, did a great dying swan “act” which made the outcome/injury potential look far worse than it was.
  6. I feel that it would not have helped Rolland’s chances of being given the Final (he Refereed the 2007 RWC final) as he had other “marginal and strange” calls during previous games. Notably the laissez-faire ruling at the end of the France v NZ round robin game where France scored a try in the most bizarre of circumstances.
  7. By my assessments I believe he ended up at no 2 behind Joubert who was unflappably consistent and accurate in all his games.
  8. Rolland has been “rewarded” for his skills by being allocated an assistant referee role with Nigel Owens in the final. This should enable the teams to give their best with officials who do not want to the “centre of attention”.


  1. Another very very physical and potentially ‘explosive’ game between two “arch on field rivals”.
  2. Joubert and his assistants Poire and Owens, allowed the players to get on with their combat duties with firm control and direction.
  3. NZ’s scrum dominance resulted in Australia yielding 4 penalties (2 of which resulted in points) and 3 resets. Talked to front rows early in game regarding early movement at engagement, solving any problems that may have arrisen.
  4. At the breakdown he controlled the “post tackle” consistently. Early on he was firm with the 2 main protagonists, Pocock and McCaw, by issuing 2 penalties against Pocock and 1 on McCaw.
  5. Warns and calls players at breakdown, eg. hands in, in at side etc. This early and firm decision making enabled the teams to obtain much quicker ball.
  6. In many of the areas of the games Joubert was mid-range of the 10 referees in the rulings and decisions at most phases of play:
    1. Scrum Infringements: 5 of 10
    2. Penalties awarded: 6 of 10
    3. Penalties at Ruck: 5 of 10
    4. Penalties at Scrum: 4 of 10
    5. Scrum resets: 8 least of 10
  7. Still somewhat “lenient” at calling the 10 m offside line in front of kicks up filed, with this I think the assistant referees input is vital
  8. Rewarded for excellent feel, consistency, calm and accurate decision making and communication.

Thorbs also has his own blog Thorbs on Rugby which is well worth a read.

Enter your email address to continue reading

We frequently post interesting articles and comment from our world class content providers so please provide us with your email address and we will notify you when new articles are available.

We'll also get in touch with various news and updates that we think will interest you. We promise to not spam, sell, or otherwise abuse your address (you can unsubscribe at any time).

See all News & Opinions videos


comments powered by Disqus

Thorb's is a former All Black selector, New Zealand Sevens coach and most recently head coach of the USA Eagles during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He is a highly respected international coach and has been involved with the IRB coach and referee groups shaping and refining the laws of the game.

Topic News & Opinions
Applicable to Coaches  

Related articles

Wonderful Weekend of Rugby has all up and running again

Peter Thorburn takes an analytical look at the brilliant round one action from the Heinken Cup and wonders if we need to take steps to ensure a fair contest for the ball at the breakdown

Thorb's Referee Rankings: Finals

Peter Thorborn’s weekly ranking of referee performance during the Rugby World Cup. Finals week and the last of his assessments, looking at Barnes performance in the Bronze Medal Play-Offs and Joubert in the epic Final between New Zealand and France.

Thorb's Referee Rankings: Quarter Finals

Peter Thorborn’s weekly ranking of referee performance during the Rugby World Cup. Were now at the business end of the tournament and some of the referees are having a marked impact on the matches they are officiating.

Thorb's Referee Rankings #4

Peter Thorborn’s weekly ranking of referee performance during the Rugby World Cup. Week four and final week of pool play sees Kaplan remain top and Pearson remain at the bottom of the leaderboard. Will be interesting to see who is selected to referee the quarters.

Thorb's Referee Rankings #3

Peter Thorborn’s weekly ranking of referee performance during the Rugby World Cup. Week three of the Cup Kaplan stays on top of the leaderboard based on his performances last week, but Thorb’s thinks that Barnes is snipping at his heels.