England to complain about ref Steve Walsh after Wales defeat
England scrum 'harshly treated' during 30-3 thrashing – though they still agree the better team won
ENGLAND are to complain to the International Rugby Board about controversial referee Steve Walsh after their crushing defeat by Wales in the Six Nations title decider last weekend.
English fans feared the worst when New Zealander Walsh, who is now based in Australia, was named to referee the crucial match in Cardiff, which Wales won 30-3.
"England kept their counsel in the immediate aftermath," writes the Daily Telegraph's Mick Cleary, "but after studying video footage of Walsh's performance at the scrum and the breakdown they have decided to make a formal presentation of their views to the IRB."
Previewing the game for The Week last Friday, Gavin Mortimer forecast just such an outcome. "Put bluntly, there is a feeling among many in Europe that southern hemisphere referees just aren't up to the job, particularly when it comes to overseeing the scrum," he said and went on to list Walsh's erratic past behaviour both on and off the field.
Incidents included squirting water at an England coach on the touchline in 2003 and being sacked by the IRB after turning up drunk to an international conference in Sydney. He was later reinstated. "It was crass of the IRB to appoint Walsh as referee for this fixture," said Mortimer.
In the event, "England's forwards conceded a stream of penalties in Cardiff," writes the Daily Mail's Chris Foy, "but [forwards coach] Graham Rowntree argued they were harshly treated, saying: 'I sat up on Saturday night and watched the game again forensically. I'm annoyed at a lot of the outcomes and I will speak to the IRB to get clarification'."
Steve Walsh was dubbed 'Steve Welsh' in Cardiff after the game for the way he punished England heavily, writes Foy. "But England still accept they were beaten by the better side." ·