World Cup qualifier official responds to Ireland Spain criticism

A tournament director of the European qualifiers for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup has responded to criticism from the Ireland camp following their match with Spain.

Ireland and Huddersfield forward Oliver Roberts was critical of various logistics in a piece with TotalRL earlier this week.

Ireland star’s disgust at ‘shambolic and dangerous’ Spain trip

But Chris Thair, who has spoken directly to Roberts since the piece was published, said: “No official complaint has been made by Rugby League Ireland and no case found to start any disciplinary proceedings. The responsibility to deliver a good match day experience rests with the home federation. The standards that must be fulfilled are clearly mapped out in our regulations and tournament manual.

“The venue met all the minimum requirements and the playing surface was passed fit to play by the referee and experienced match commissioner. Any potential issues raised at Friday’s captain’s run were all rectified before the game.

“The referee and two touch judges are independently appointed by the RLEF Match Official Panel. Geoffrey Poumes is an experienced official and referee performances are reviewed accordingly. The game was challenging, with three yellow cards issued in the second half and numerous stoppages due to foul play.”

Spain head coach Darren Fisher added: “We respect feedback, positive or negative, for future reference. Whilst we can defend all of our actions, we will endeavour to take on board better communication and more committed liaisons with our visitors. Having to change the venue at short notice, although it fitted all necessary requirements, was the chief cause of some of the disquiet.

“I wish Ireland the best of luck for their next game, I’m sure a place in the full World Cup beckons for them in 2021.”

Stuart Littler, the Ireland head coach said: “Lessons have been learned for the future and it is important that we continue to support the international growth of the sport. We are solely concentrating on World Cup qualification and hope Spain have good fortune in their own quest.”

Roberts himself added: “I felt I had to speak out. However, I’m glad the matter has been resolved. I now just wish to move on, play for Ireland and qualify for the World Cup.”