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Premiership Rugby

Woodward rubbishes Watson report

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

According to media reports on Friday, Woodward was unhappy with Watson's handling of the scrums during the match. The South African referee handed England a string of penalties for illegal scrummaging – the last of which resulted in Wallaby centre Elton Flatley kicking a penalty and sending the game into extra-time.

Woodward was reported to have confronted Watson after the game and allegedly also wrote a formal letter of complaint to the IRB demanding action.

"We went through the whole tournament without a scrum penalty and tonight we conceded six," Woodward was quoted as saying last Saturday.

But the England boss stressed that he had not confronted Watson at any stage after the game, nor did he intend to.

"Contrary to the story that has appeared in Friday's Daily Mail I have not written to the IRB over André's [Watson] officiating of the RWC Final last Saturday," said Woodward in a statement issued on Friday.

"I have only had one brief post match conversation with André, at the IRB Awards Dinner last Sunday, and we didn't discuss the match in any detail. Andy Robinson spoke to André briefly and directly after the game, I didn't.

"I can also confirm that I have no plans to write a letter to the IRB in this matter. However, I will be attending the IRB Coaches and Referee's conference in January 2004 and, like a number of other coaches, I will be looking forward to a wide ranging discussion, which is aimed at improving the understanding and communication between officials and international test teams."

Watson, meanwhile, was unaware of any reports of a complaint, but was happy with his performance during the game and felt that he was justified in his handling of the scrums.

"I ref what I see and nothing else and I was happy with my performance," he said. "If there were any problems, they will have been noted by the IRB and I have not had any comebacks from them."

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