RWC 15: Referees told to get tough on diving players

‘A culture is creeping in, I call it the football culture - simulation, appealing to the referee’

Officials have been told to sin-bin players who dive or feign injury during the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty Images

Rugby World Cup officials have been told to sin-bin players who dive or feign injury during matches in a bid to clamp down on a growing football culture in the game.

Players appealing to referees to award penalties will also be punished.

"There is a culture creeping in - I call it the football culture - of simulation, people appealing to the referee, players - and it has happened a couple of times - diving," John Jeffrey, chairman of the World Rugby match officials selection committee, told reporters.

“That is going to be sanctioned very heavily in this tournament. We are the showcase of our rugby event and it’s very important that we keep our values there and referees have been asked to sanction very heavily on that.”


Diving is not specifically banned in rugby, but referees had been ordered to treat it as “ungentlemanly conduct” and issue a straight yellow card.

Jeffrey, the former Scotland flanker, said officials would also be encouraged to push teams 10 metres back if players persistently complained about decisions.

Player can also be cited for diving even if the referee misses the offence under a new process in which warnings will be issued for yellow-card offences.

An accumulation of three yellow cards or warnings will lead to a judicial hearing and possible ban.

South Africa winger Bryan Habana was involved in a controversial incident playing for Toulon in the European Champions Cup final against Saracens in May.

He tried to earn a penalty by pretending to be taken out by England outhalf Owen Farrell and later apologised for his actions.