World Cup

Joubert finally explains why he ran off pitch after Australia v Scotland

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On the run: Referee Craig Joubert (R) leaves the field at the end of the game as Greg Laidlaw of Scotland looks on.

Image credit: Eurosport

15/04/2016 at 10:17 | Updated 15/04/2016 at 10:43

South African rugby referee Craig Joubert has finally admitted that he ran off the pitch because he feared an angry confrontation with Scotland players after a late decision that handed their Rugby World Cup quarter-final match to Australia.

And Joubert has also admitted that with hindsight he would have reconsidered his decision to award Australia the contentious last-gasp penalty which saw them edge Scotland 35-34 at Twickenham in October.

World Rugby later announced Joubert had made the wrong decision and should have awarded a scrum but it was the 38-year-old's decision to run off the pitch which angered many - and led to one Australian newspaper naming Joubert as man of the match.

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"In my head was a desire to avoid any possible unseemly confrontation that would mar what had been a wonderful occasion," said Joubert in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

"I had it in my mind somewhere that there had been an incident between the official and the England coaches (Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree) in their match against Australia and I just didn't want any of that to happen, not because I don't understand the emotions of the moment for players and coaches, their desire for answers to questions, but just because I did not want that to become another possible incident.

"That was my thinking, not for myself but for the situation."

Those words are unlikely to pacify Scotland fans, however, who were furious as the Scots lost out on a spot in the last four - a game which would have been a seemingly-winnable clash with Argentina.

On the late penalty, Joubert added: "In hindsight, would I have reconsidered that decision? Absolutely."

He has since built bridges with Scotland coach Vern Cotter and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw.

Cotter had rung him shortly after the quarter-final to tell him he understood the complexities of what had happened and they met again during the Six Nations when Joubert ran the line as Ireland played Scotland in Dublin.

"I had a coffee with Vern before the game and a beer with Greig (Laidlaw) afterwards. They were very natural and typical interactions which I enjoyed," added Joubert.

Craig Joubert

Image credit: PA Sport

Additional reporting via PA

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