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Paul Honiss
IRB Tackle Foot in Mouth Incident
8 August 2007, 8:01 am
By Chris Byrne
Leading New Zealand referee Paul Honiss who has been told to 'zip it' by the International Rugby Board for comments he made encouraging players to talk more to referees and to question decisions
Honiss, who will be officiating at the Rugby World Cup, made the comments on New Zealand Radio that brought the rebuke from IRB Chief Executive Mike Miller.

"His comments encouraging players to verbally engage the referee more were out of line. He has been reprimanded by the IRB Referee Manager and he has been told that such actions will not be tolerated moving forward. He has been reminded about his responsibilities as a Test match referee and he has accepted that his actions were contrary to IRB policy. The matter is now closed,"

Honiss must have been 'gone fishing' last November when the IRB announced that match officials would enforce a zero tolerance policy when it came to players disputing decisions on the field.

A meeting of the IRB Test Match Referee Panel and National Union referee managers sent out a clear message - well clear to everyone it seems bar Honiss - that back-chatting and arguing with match officials will simply not be tolerated. Nor will any attempt to influence a referee or slow down the match through questioning the referee.

Up to now, it was possible and acceptable for coaches to meet referees briefly before kick-off if they so desired. That practice is also to be discontinued in order to " remove unnecessary external influences on match officials and allow them to referee what they see in front of them without any preconceived ideas", according to IRB Referee Manager, Paddy O'Brien.

Instead coaches will be asked to attend one pre-tournament briefing with referees and as Mr O'Brien succinctly puts it, " that will be that."

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