World Rugby has responded to a report that claimed the governing body admitted to an officiating error in the Rugby World Cup final. According to a New Zealand website, World Rugby has privately acknowledged that Aaron Smith's try against the Springboks should have stood. Smith scored in the 54th minute after a break from Richie Mo'unga, but the try was disallowed due to an earlier knock-on by Ardie Savea.
Although the officials correctly ruled that Savea had lost the ball forward, the laws prevent them from intervening for knock-ons if play has gone beyond two phases. New Zealand had gone through four phases by the time Mo'unga made the decisive break, leading to Smith's try.
The New Zealand website, Stuff, claimed that World Rugby privately acknowledged that the disallowed try was outside the rules. However, World Rugby refused to publicly acknowledge this. In response to the report, World Rugby released a statement supporting their officials. They stated that they do not publicly comment on match official decisions and that they stand by their outstanding match official team.
The controversial decision to disallow Smith's try ultimately had an impact on the outcome of the World Cup final, with the Springboks securing a narrow 12-11 victory over the All Blacks. While the officials received praise for their overall handling of the game, referee Wayne Barnes faced death threats following the match. Barnes has since announced his retirement from refereeing and vowed to address online abuse while mentoring young officials.
World Rugby's response to the report suggests that they are aware of the error made in disallowing Smith's try, but they refuse to publicly acknowledge it. The controversy highlights the intense scrutiny and pressure faced by match officials and the need to address issues of online abuse.