Bok ref gets the boot
Bryce Lawrence, the referee who "made a hash" of the Springboks' quarterfinal against the Wallabies, has been dumped by the Rugby World Cup.
The New Zealander, criticised for his handling of the Boks' 11-9 defeat, was overlooked for this weekend's semifinals.
Instead Craig Joubert, the South African who has had an outstanding tournament, will referee the semifinal between Australia and New Zealand on Sunday.
Alain Rolland of Ireland will take charge of the Saturday semi between France and Wales. Rolland was the referee in the 2007 World Cup final, when South Africa beat England.
South Africa's Jonathan Kaplan and Wayne Barnes of England will be linesmen in the Wales-France match, while Nigel Owens of Wales and Raymond Poite of France will run the touchlines in the All Blacks-Wallabies semifinal.
Lawrence was singled out for criticism because of the way he handled the Boks-Wallabies match, which allowed numerous transgressions to go unpunished.
He allowed special leeway to Australia's openside flank David Pocock, which had a major bearing on the match's outcome. Outgoing Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and captain John Smit were privately seething at Lawrence's handling of the game but they did not vent their anger in public.
By overlooking Lawrence for the semifinals, the International Rugby Board has tacitly admitted that he is no longer among the elite referees at the tournament - if he ever was. There has been no official comment on his performance.
He was also criticised for his refereeing in previous World Cup matches. During Ireland's 15-6 defeat of the Wallabies, he was accused of favouring the Irish scrum.
After his handling of the England-Argentina match (won 13-9 by England), his refereeing was slammed in the British press.
Lawrence also took criticism for his performance during the match between the Wallabies and Russia, when he repeatedly penalised the Wallaby scrum.
Last week, before the quarterfinal, a report pinpointed Lawrence's perceived bias against Australia by highlighting the penalty count against the Wallabies when Lawrence was in charge of Australia's games. Before the Bok quarterfinal on Sunday, Lawrence had awarded 33 penalties against Australia and only 18 for them in three tests in charge this year.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported before Sunday's quarterfinal that Lawrence had admitted he got several calls wrong at the scrum during Australia's pool match against Ireland.
He allegedly conceded that other decisions were also inaccurate, according to the newspaper.
Statistics last week revealed that Lawrence was averaging 6.3 scrum resets per game, which is the most of any referee at the Rugby World Cup.