World Rugby: Could the Joubert decision lead to legal action?

Continuing our thoughts on the Rugby World Cup, in the quarter-final stage Scotland were denied a famous victory against Australia by the (controversial) decision of referee Craig Joubert to award Australia a last minute penalty, which television replays showed should not have been awarded.

In our post yesterday, in which we looked at the disciplinary process the players conduct is subject to and it was noted by our guest blogger that decisions by a referee are not subject to the same disciplinary process.

Following World Rugby's statement that the referee had made the wrong decision and that there should have been an Australian scrum rather than a penalty we have been considering what action, if any, the Scottish RFU might have considered taking against World Rugby.

Our guest blogger and sports law expert Daniel Saoul suggests that it is extremely unlikely the decision could lead to legal action. He said:

"It is an accepted part of the framework that referees are responsible for these sorts of decisions and part of the rules of the game is to accept to be bound by them – that is sport, basically. Likewise for political reasons it is impossible to envisage the Scottish RFU suing World Rugby, for example. What is more likely is a review of which incidents can be referred to the Television Match Official, since this was one which the referee was not permitted to refer, under the current regime, and it would self-evidently have made a massive – indeed life-changing – difference if he could have done so.

That said, there is some precedent for legal action to be considered in relation to sporting decisions; in June 2015 Fifa paid the Football Association of Ireland 5m euros (£3.6m) to stop legal action after France controversially beat Ireland in a World Cup play-off.

Different sports, different organisations of course. However, it is unusual for World Rugby to make such a categorical statement that the wrong refereeing decision had been made.

What's your opinion? Should the Scottish RFU take action? Do you think they will? Leave us a comment below.

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