‘Ruining this World Cup’: TV presenter slams ‘grotesque’ refereeing as Wales beat Fiji

Matthew Carley has come in for criticism

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The refereeing in the Rugby World Cup match between Wales and Fiji has been slammed as “grotesque” and “appalling” by TV presenter Nick Knowles who also claims that the officiating is “ruining the World Cup”.

Perceived inconsistency from referees dominated the headlines across the first weekend of the tournament in France, with a number of controversial decisions – especially regarding head contact in the tackle – took centre stage.

Tom Curry’s red card in the early stages of England’s 27-10 win over Argentina for a dangerous tackle on Pumas full back Juan Cruz Mallia as he landed after leaping for a high ball seemed to set a precedent of a low threshold for serious punishment of head contact, in the interest of player safety.

Yet later in that same match, Santiago Carreras only received yellow despite his reckless leap in attempting to charge down a George Ford kick seeing his hip make contact with the England No 10’s head.

During South Africa’s impressive 18-3 win over Scotland, Jesse Kriel’s tackle on Jack Dempsey in which his head clattered into that of his Scottish opponent wasn’t even reviewed by the TMO, while Chile captain Martin Sigren was only sin-binned despite a head-on-head collision while tackling a Japanese attacker.


Away from head contact controversy, the inconsistency of referee Matthew Carley during Wales’s thrilling 32-26 win over Fiji in Bordeaux on Sunday evening also came under intense scrutiny. In the second half, Wales were able to infringe regularly on their own line, receiving warning after warning, while conceding just one yellow card when it could easily have been three or four.

Matthew Carley’s refereeing performance came under scrutiny

Meanwhile, when Fiji’s Lekima Tagitagivalu was the first man carded, justifiably in his case, the outrage from the crowd was palpable. Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui was diplomatic after the game but also clearly a little frustrated at the inconsistency.

He said: “It’s pretty tough to talk when you are hot after the match. I did think when we were down in the corner, we had multiple penalties and could have been multiple more and we didn’t get a yellow card [given against Wales]. The referees have got a tough job, I respect what they do. As a coach, you are looking for that consistency. There were a couple of occasions where we thought we didn’t get the rub of the green.”

Social media was ablaze during the game, with TV presenter and big rugby fan Knowles livid at the way the Fijians were treated by Carley and the impact that officials are having on the tournament.

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“Absolutely appalling officiating in this game – Fiji should launch an official complaint,” wrote Knowles on X, formerly Twitter. “Try line no arms tackle first half wales ignored, multiple try line offences Wales ignored, one offence Fiji carded. Officiating ruining this World Cup.”

He continued: “This is looking worse than bad officiating – I don’t even want to say it out loud. This officiating is an absolute disgrace and World Rugby owes Fiji an apology and this officiating team need censuring in some way This is supposed to be a showcase but it’s grotesque.”

After the full-time whistle, he posted again: “ The officials won that game for Wales and something should be done about it. Nothing will of course but World Rugby you are absolutely making a mess of this showcase .”

Knowles had also posted about the Kriel incident earlier in the day, writing: “ Can anyone explain why Jesse Kriel wasn’t even considered for a yellow for a tackle that was identical to the tackle that resulted in a red card for Curry last night. Do SA have a special pass? Will the TMO face sanction for such a glaring error. Will Kriel go on report?”

Plenty of people within the rugby fraternity agreed with the sentiment of Knowles that Fiji had been hard done-by.

Fiji legend Nemani Nadolo wrote: “Yellow card after one penalty to wales 4 warnings ?. I’m confused.”

Former Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson said: ” Gutted for Fiji, Wales can thank Carley for that one. How they didn’t have more people in the bin was a joke.”


Meanwhile, former England star Lewis Moody wrote: “If there was one question post Wales v Fiji, I’d love to understand why Wales got so may [sic] warnings after repeated infringements and Fiji had 1 infringement and an imidiate [sic] yellow.?

Ex-England fly half and current podcaster Andy Goode added: “Is Matt Carley secretly Welsh? Feel for Fiji.”

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