Marius van der Westhuizen Stood Down After Helping At England Training

World Rugby have decided to replace Marius van der Westhuizen as Assistant Referee for the England vs Ireland Test in the last round of the 2018 Six Nations. Nigel Owens will step in to take his place.

They made their decision after the news that Van der Westhuizen was involved in a training session with the England squad a couple of days ago.

World Rugby said: “The decision follows Marius’s attendance at an England training session this week. While greater dialogue and collaboration between match officials and teams (including attending team training on request) has been agreed by World Rugby and the teams, Marius should not have been involved given that he was a member of the match official team for the weekend’s match.”

“World Rugby takes responsibility for this oversight and has taken the proactive decision to stand Marius down to avoid any additional unfair and unnecessary conjecture. Marius is an outstanding talent with a big international future and both he and his employer SARU fully support the decision.”

It is not unusual for teams to ask referees to attend practices and advise on the legality of plays and tactics.  This time, however, it does seem to suggest that there is a conflict of interest.

World Rugby has already made it clear that they would talk to England’s training staff to make sure this kind of occurrence doesn’t happen again.