Joel Jutge

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Assistant referee Wayne Barnes waits for the TMO during the game between Italy and Canada in Fukuoka. Barnes seems to be having second thoughts about retiring. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The sun has set on the Rugby World Cup, so it is a fitting moment to say a heartfelt “arigato” to Japan. Returned home, wearied, and perhaps a little(...)

Referee Wayne Barnes (right) and assistant referee Romain Poite during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between South Africa and Italy at Ecopa Stadium in Fukuroi last Friday. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

We started out in September looking at the focus areas for the match officials. So let’s see what’s been happening so far. Firstly, when we look at h(...)

Alain Rolland: With the aid of World Rugby’s elite referee manager, the referees will have worked at  mental strength, fitness, consistency and teamwork. Photograph: Jordan Mansfield

Let’s spare a thought for the 21st team travelling to Japan – the match officials. For the last four years, exactly the same as the players, these wi(...)

 Rory O’Loughlin of Leinster celebrates after scoring a try against Bath at the Aviva Stadium  in Dublin. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

First, the good news. All four Irish provinces still have their European destinies in their own hands. After three rounds of festive interpro derbies,(...)

 John Kelly celebrates his try for Munster during the “Miracle Match”, where the province needed to win by exactly four tries and 27 points against Gloucester, which they succeeded in doing so.   Photograph: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Looking back now, it perhaps doesn’t seem quite so fanciful. Facing into the final round of pool games, Munster had to beat Gloucester and also by fou(...)

Taulupe Faletau is a major doubt for Wales’s November internationals with a broken arm. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Taulupe Faletau is a serious doubt for Wales’s autumn internationals after the Bath director of rugby, Todd Blackadder, confirmed the number eight has(...)

Will Spencer (left) of Leicester Tigers is sent off by referee Ian Tempest after a high tackle on Tommy Taylor during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and  Tigers  in Coventry earlier this month. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Simon Halliday, chairman of European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR), has delivered a clear message over concussion fears ahead of the new season: the (...)

Johnny Sexton played the full 80 minutes as Ireland stopped England from securing the Grand Slam. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

It cannot be coincidence. Trawl back through Ireland matches since Johnny Sexton was knocked out by Mathieu Bastareaud during the 2014 Six Nations tit(...)

Ieland’s Devin Toner, Sean O’Brien and Paul O’Connell react to referee Wayne Barnes’ controversial late  decision against the visitors in Cardiff in 2015. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Imagine Seán O’Brien and Paul O’Connell shaping up to end you. Wayne Barnes faced this very situation and lived to tell the tale.  In 2015 Irela(...)

If the lines of communication from club to county board to central council to Congress were working, there wouldn’t be any need for a Club Players Association.   Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

As a man who enjoys all the meats of the sporting stew, I was at the Ireland v New Zealand game last weekend with my father, who hadn’t been to Lansdo(...)

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