Rugby: World Cup final TMO Tom Foley continued refereeing after suffering three broken ribs in English Premiership clash

Tom Foley - the television match official (TMO) from the All Blacks' 12-11 Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa - has continued refereeing in the English Premiership, despite suffering three rib fractures in an accidental collision.

Taking charge of the Premiership encounter between Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers in late December, Foley, 38, copped a hit from three sides.

As Tigers fullback Freddie Steward made a run, Foley was caught in between the ball carrier, and Chiefs defenders Dafydd Jenkins and Ollie Devoto late in the first half.

"Let me know you're doing that next time, boys," he was heard saying by onfield microphones.

He insisted he didn't need to be replaced by an assistant referee, but scans have since shown three broken bones in Foley's ribs.

Exeter went on to seal victory 29-10.

Foley has taken a step back from officiating at test level, after copping online abuse for his Rugby World Cup performance.

In the final, his interjections resulted in yellow cards to four players, including All Blacks captain Sam Cane, who was upgraded to a red card for a high tackle on centre Jessie Kriel. Foley also disallowed a try to All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith.

In December, NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson came out in support of Foley, condemning the abuse he received.