Rugby World Cup: AM host Nicky Styris rages at refereeing inconsistency in England win over Fiji

Fiji were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup on Monday morning (NZ time), as England claimed a 30-24 victory in their quarter-final clash in Paris.   

But many - including AM host Nicky Styris - believe one particular call in the dying minutes could have impacted the outcome of the match.   

With fulltime expired and trailing by six points, Fiji were in possession and chasing the converted try they needed to pull off a great escape when England's captain, Owen Farrell, knocked the ball down during an attempted pass.  

French Referee Mathieu Raynal referred the incident to the TMO who agreed it was deliberate but only penalised England. In Sunday's win over Ireland, All Black Aaron Smith was shown a yellow card by referee Wayne Barnes for the same indiscretion.  

During Monday's show, AM host Nicky Styris pointed out the alleged injustice during a panel discussion with All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan and commentator Tony Johnson.  

Mathieu Raynal and Fiji players.
Mathieu Raynal and Fiji players. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Where's the consistency?' AM host Nicky Styris asked.  

"A deliberate knock down, exactly the same as what Aaron Smith got sent off for on Sunday morning, but no."  

Smith was sent off moments before halftime on Sunday, one of two All Blacks who were shown a yellow card against the Irish.  

Fortunately for New Zealand, his 10-minute absence didn't cost the Kiwis the game, going on to win 28-24 to book a spot in the semifinals.   

But for the Fijians it was a different a story, which boiled Styris' blood.   

"There was no difference. In fact, England's so called 'non deliberate' knock was worse than Aarons Smith's... and yet nothing for them."   

Sir John and Johnson both shared the presenter's frustrations.   

"I just about ripped the TV off the wall," admitted Kirwan.

'It's a deliberate hand, outstretched to knock the ball away... certainly way more of a yellow card than Aaron Smith's ever was," added a perplexed Johnson.

All three believe there needs to be more consistency from referees, particularly when the relatively smaller test nations are involved.

"I do think there is an unconscious bias towards second-tier teams," believes Kirwan.
Styris believes there's also another factor at play.

"I think it's a Northern Hemisphere thing. They couldn't bare the thought of their prized England being knocked out of the World Cup'.

The English will now face South Africa in the second semi-final on Sunday morning.