Scotland may still hold a grudge against him, but top SA referee, Craig Joubert, was welcomed with “open arms” in New Zealand earlier this week.
The New Zealand Herald newspaper reports that Joubert, who was the referee in the All Blacks’ 2011 World Cup final triumph over France on home soil, gave his insights into the profession at a rugby referees meeting in Bay of Plenty after he had taken charge of the Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Chiefs in Wellington at the weekend.
The 38-year-old Joubert – a former banker from Durban who left the corporate world to take up the whistle – spent an hour answering questions about his experiences as a referee.
He spoke about the pressures involved in being on the big stage while travelling around the world for about six months of the year.
More than 50 people were in attendance as Joubert told of a memorable moment on his Super Rugby in 2005, when he had a word with the Brumbies team about there being 15 referees on the field and them talking too much, and legendary scrumhalf George Gregan piped up: “Yeah mate, and you’re not even in the top 10.”
Joubert drew sharp criticism from many quarters after running off the field and failing to shake the hands of the players at the end of the controversial Rugby World Cup quarter-final last year, when he awarded Australia a late penalty for an apparent offside indiscretion, which Bernard Foley converted to hand the Wallabies a 35-34 victory at Twickenham.
World Rugby later said that Joubert had made the wrong decision and should’ve awarded a scrum to Australia instead.
And the man himself told The Telegraph newspaper in the UK earlier this year that he left the pitch because “in my head was a desire to avoid any possible unseemly confrontation that would mar what had been a wonderful occasion”.
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union referee manager Pat Rae said: “It was great for Craig to give his time so freely to come and talk to us. No doubt he’s one of the world’s best referees and having him at our meeting was fantastic. It’s like a local club rugby team getting Richie McCaw along to their training.”
Joubert will be the man in the middle on Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland when the Blues take on the Rebels.