We're sick of Aussie refs: England - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

We're sick of Aussie refs: England

By Jim Morton 10/11/2008 09:03:07 PM Comments (0)

England are pushing for a northern hemisphere referee to control their Rugby League World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Saturday night.

Fed up with playing under Australian whistle-blowers in their three pool matches, coach Tony Smith has appealed for anyone but a southern hemisphere official to control their sudden-death encounter at Suncorp Stadium.

Smith's plea comes as the English are seething over leading NRL referee Tony Archer's handling of their 36-24 pool loss to the Kiwis in Newcastle.

The coach took issue with three NZ tries Archer awarded plus a controversial penalty which saw the Kiwis grab a 26-24 lead with 10 minutes left.

NZ interchange player Isaac Luke, who kicked the penalty goal, was virtually accused of cheating by English players for taking a "dive" after coming into contact with Kevin Sinfield.

"We (conceded) three tries that we don't think should have been awarded tries and have actually been told that two of them, if they would have been referred to and looked at properly by the video ref, wouldn't have been given," Smith said.

"And even the two points was incredible really.

"Kevin Sinfield brushes a fly off somebody and he falls over. If that's where we've got to in this game we're in trouble.

"We've had three Australian referees in this competition so far and I think we've probably struggled in each of them.

Asked whether he had a preference for certain referee on Saturday night, Smith said: "Anybody but."

Mick Stone, the chairman of the World Cup appointments board, will decide the semi-final referees as early as Tuesday.

Smith, like Kiwis counterpart Stephen Kearney - who questioned Archer's handling of the ruck - said he would seek to meet with Stone.

"I've got a lot of areas to talk about, not just the ruck area," Smith said. "We're not happy (with) what we saw there on the weekend."

The tournament is being controlled by seven referees, including three from Australia, two from England and one each from France and NZ.

Archer and Shayne Hayne, in charge of England's opening 32-22 win over Papua New Guinea, have consistently controlled the biggest matches along with Englishman Ashley Klein who handled the Kangaroos first-up thumping of the Kiwis.

"What I would say is I would like a northern hemisphere referee, we haven't had one yet," said Australian-born Smith.

"The Australians have had an Australian referee, I don't see why we can't have a referee from the northern hemisphere.

"We would just like an even keel."

England's players said Luke "should be playing soccer" after his second-half dive.

"It's a bit of a joke - great acting from him," Sinfield told the English press.

"He certainly played for it - I think he'd have got an Oscar. It did hurt us but we can't blame the defeat on that."

Smith, who rested four of his regular players on the weekend, hinted star winger Abe Gardner would return to mark NZ's four-try hero Manu Vatuvei.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said it was a difficult issue when the best referees came from the leading nations.

"What's wrong with New Zealand referees?" he jibed. "It's not really of a concern to me.

"We think the best person should get the job."

Kearney said it was highly unlikely Manly centre Steve Matai would be available to play England, and the Kiwi camp fears his tournament has ended following a neck injury.

Matai was undergoing MRI scans in Brisbane on Monday night and the team doctor, Simon Mayhew, admitted the tackle-breaking back was at long odds to play again this year.

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