French referee Pascal Gauzere held his hand up over the handling of two controversial first-half tries in England’s Six Nations defeat by Wales, World Rugby’s head of match officials Joel Jutge said.
Gauzere came in for criticism from English supporters and pundits as Eddie Jones’ England saw their title defence come to an end in Cardiff on Saturday.
“There were two unfortunate events during the match which were tough cases to handle. Pascal Gauzere recognised as such when he spoke to me on the phone,” Jutge told French newspaper Midi Olympique.
The first Welsh try came when England were breaking out of a huddle after the Gauzere had instructed captain Owen Farrell to address his players and they were unprepared for Dan Biggar’s kick to the corner that Josh Adams collected in acres of space.
“From the moment when the referee says ‘time on’ the game can recommence,” Jutge said.
“Except that it was on him (Gauzere) to make sure the English had material time to reorganise themselves, because it was him who had asked the captain to speak to his players.”
England were left frustrated once again at the half-hour mark when Gauzere and his TMO decided Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit had not knocked on the ball in the lead up to Liam Williams’ try.
“I think there is a tendency to refer to the TMO too often when one can make the call oneself on the pitch and stick with it, which if Pascal had whistled for a knock-on there would have meant no appeal by the TMO to review it,” Jutge said.
“When one commits an error one should be transparent about it. Despite this he is still an excellent international referee.”
Wales’ former international referee Nigel Owens said the two tries should never have been awarded but England coach Jones refused to blame the officiating for the final result.