One of the big talking points from Ireland's frustrating defeat to Japan was the performance of referee Angus Gardner. The penalty count finished 9-6 in favour to Japan and in that pivotal third quarter when Japan roared into the lead, Gardner's refereeing of the offside rule was absolutely maddening. You can appreciate that full-blooded Japan performance while admitting Gardner was incredibly harsh on Ireland., especially in the second half.
Joe Schmidt will no doubt lay into Ireland during the video session this week, but his polite and subtle criticism of Gardner was notable after the match. In two post-match interviews, Schmidt brought up the four offsides penalties that Ireland were whistled for.
"We got out to a 12-3 lead and stopped playing.
"It was pretty difficult"@IrishRugby Head Coach Joe Schmidt congratulated Japan, but questioned the penalty count as his side suffered their first defeat at #RWC2019. #JPNvIRE pic.twitter.com/0wZ1UH4LDr
— eir Sport (@eirSport) September 28, 2019
'Watching the monitor, they were some pretty tough calls.,' Schmidt said on RTE. Keith Earls was asked to comment on the refereeing afterwards and struggled for five seconds to speak before taking the high road.
Schmidt had notably brought up Gardner's performance the last time he reffed Ireland in prematch interviews.
"Obviously last time we had Angus it wasn't great for us," said Schmidt. "We didn't play particularly well but we didn't feel we got a lot of the rub of the green either.' (emphasis ours)
Gardner was lambasted across social media by (mostly) Irish fans.
Angus Gardner is terrible referee, he proved it for the France/Argentina game and is proving it again. @WorldRugby is going have to deal with refereeing as the major talking point of this competition https://t.co/myUdepFWvW
— Anthony Coyne (@antoc24) September 28, 2019
— Nathan Cassidy (@ShameCassidy) September 28, 2019
Credit where credit is due, Japan were incredible and fully deserved to win.
But it has to be said, Angus Gardner is a terrible referee. He doesn't know what offside is, and is so inconsistent with giving penalties at the breakdown.
He won't be refereeing past the group stages.
— JoséVanMoysey (@ho_howdy) September 28, 2019