Referee alleges conspiracy

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

The leading French referee, Patrick Robin, has said that British officials closed ranks to prevent anyone other than a referee from the British Isles handling the World Cup final. "The four British supervisors joined forces with the New Zealand and Australian officials to keep us out," the 47- year-old Robin said yesterday. "There was no point in asking for an explanation because the British form a mafia."

Derek Bevan of Wales, David Bishop of New Zealand, Ed Morrison of England and Jim Fleming of Scotland were in charge of the quarter-finals. Bevan and Ireland's Stephen Hilditch refereed the semi-finals, and Morrison the final.

"The first rule was that we had to pass a fitness test. Four of the seven who failed still refereed matches and one of them even controlled a final- phase match," Robin said. "The supervisors ranked the referees after assessing their pool matches. Derek Bevan was top. I was second and Joel Dume, the other French referee, fourth. David Bishop, Jim Fleming and Stephen Hilditch were down the list but the supervisors revised the rankings to class us according to experience. I dropped to fifth and Dume to sixth, which meant we had no chance of refereeing a knock-out match."

Robin said Bevan gave South Africa the benefit of the doubt four times in their semi-final against France, and Morrison leaned the Springboks' way a dozen times in the final.

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