Banned official to referee Scotland

Steve Walsh, the New Zealand referee involved in an unpleasant touchline argument with one of England's coaching staff following the World Cup favourites' tight victory over Samoa 11 days ago, has been treated with a leniency that would be the envy of many a tournament miscreant.

Banned from an active role in the competition for a single weekend, Walsh has been awarded control of this weekend's Australia-Scotland quarter-final - a clear sign that he is back in favour with the administrators.

Walsh was disciplined for his part in a row with Dave Reddin, the England fitness co-ordinator, during which he was alleged to have used foul language and behaved in a confrontational fashion. Reddin had been involved in the incident that saw Dan Luger become England's "16th man".

Walsh was suspended from touch-judge duty in last Friday's match between France and the United States and, at the time, was considered unlikely to land any of the plum jobs at the business end of the tournament. However, he is now a candidate to feature at the last-four stage and, quite possibly, in the final week.

England will renew their acquaintance with Alain Rolland, the Irish referee, when they take on Wales in Sunday's quarter-final at the Suncorp Stadium. Rolland, who controlled the Six Nations champions' match with Italy at Twickenham in March, will be supported by two more European officials, David McHugh, of Ireland and Joël Jutge, of France.

Tony Spreadbury, the jovial official from Somerset, has landed the pick of this weekend's knock-out ties - the potential humdinger between New Zealand and South Africa in Melbourne. Spreadbury made an excellent fist of the exciting Fiji-Scotland match in Sydney last Saturday.

The France-Ireland game, also in Melbourne, has gone to Jonathan Kaplan, of South Africa, whose outstanding performance in the England-Samoa fixture was marred by the "16th man" substitution.

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