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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Referees ready for Cup clampdown
Paddy O'Brien
Paddy O'Brien is now the International Rugby Board's referee manager
Dissent, foul play and illegal clothing will be closely looked at during the forthcoming World Cup, according to referees' chief Paddy O'Brien.

O'Brien has had two days of talks with World Cup coaches and insisted that the "best 12 referees in the world" would be taking charge of games at the event.

He admitted key areas needed to be looked at and claimed the standard of touch judging has been "appalling".

But he expressed concern with coaches complaining about refs to the media.

"We have concerns about the amount of coaches running to the media with their complaints," said O'Brien.

"It is not fair on referees that they are judged in the media, without the right of a fair hearing or a report coming in. I have given coaches my contact details. I want them to speak to me."

Other areas that referees assessors will focus on in France are feeding into the scrums, flankers breaking from the scrum too early and players walking across a line-out before the ball has been thrown in.

We are going to inspect the players' clothing in the dressing room and also when the players are on the field

IRB referee manager Paddy O'Brien

O'Brien, a former Test referee and now the International Rugby Board's referee manager, fears too many incidents of foul play are being missed.

"I am not hiding behind the fact that touch judging in the last 12 months has been appalling," he said.

"We are asking them 'for goodness sake, touch judge and don't referee the game'. We are very concerned about the standard of touch judging throughout rugby."

But he wants referees to be respected during the tournament, which starts in Paris on Friday, and he said: "There has been a lot of publicity about the amount of talk going on, people questioning a referee's decisions.

"We have made it clear that when a referee makes a decision, rightly or wrongly, it should be respected.

"We will not hide behind refereeing errors. But I will defend referees if they are correct."

And players have been warned that their clothing will be inspected before games.

"Several sides are wearing what can only be described as American football garb," he said.

"We are going to inspect the players' clothing in the dressing room and also when the players are on the field after the anthems.

"Areas we are looking at are armguards that are outside regulations, shoulder padding, sternum pads. We are seeing some players use them in foul play."

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