WAYNE BARNES’ CONTROVERSIAL decision to award Wales a last-minute penalty against Ireland was the correct call, the International Rugby Board (IRB) and Six Nations said this afternoon.
Barnes, touch judge Dave Pearson and match citing commissioner Achille Reali came in for criticism this week when an independent disciplinary panel found that Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris had no case to answer over his alleged “tip tackle” on Ian Evans.
Ferris was sinbinned for the tackle, which gave Leigh Halfpenny the opportunity to kick a game-winning penalty in the 79th minute.
This afternoon’s joint statement appears to come in response to comments made by Ireland manager Michael Kearney on Wednesday. Speaking after Ferris had been cleared, Kearney revealed that that the disciplinary panel felt that the incident did not even merit a penalty.
Both the IRB and Six Nations deny that this is the case and said today that no criticism of Barnes’ decision should be inferred.
“While an Independent Six Nations Disciplinary Panel did not ultimately uphold the citing, the IRB’s match officials performance review endorsed Barnes’ decision to award a penalty,” this afternoon’s statement said.
“On first viewing the panel could understand exactly how the match referee came to his decision. In dismissing the citing no criticism of the referee’s on field decision should be taken or inferred.”
Barnes only other refereeing appearance at this year’s Six Nations will come when he takes charge of the game between Scotland and France at Murrayfield on 26 February.
Pearson, who recommended a yellow card following Bradley Davies’ tip tackle on Donnacha Ryan, takes charge of the game between France and Ireland in the Stade de France tomorrow evening.
Davies was banned for seven weeks at a separate disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday.
IRB and Six Nations joint statement in full
The International Rugby Board and Six Nations have backed Referee Wayne Barnes over the penalty decision that led to Ireland’s Stephen Ferris being yellow carded during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium on February 5.
While an Independent Six Nations Disciplinary Panel did not ultimately uphold the citing, the IRB’s match officials performance review endorsed Barnes’ decision to award a penalty. On first viewing the panel could understand exactly how the match referee came to his decision. In dismissing the citing no criticism of the referee’s on field decision should be taken or inferred. It was only after careful and prolonged analysis of the dynamics of the contact, including slow motion and step by step viewing, that the committee was able to see the strength of the submissions made in favour of Stephen Ferris.
All match officials are selected for International competition on merit. Performances are reviewed on an ongoing basis and taken into consideration when appointments are made for future international competitions.
Neither organisation will make any further comment on this matter.