There can be little doubt that Australia did not get the rub of the green at Twickenham yesterday but it would be unfair to say that the Wallabies lost because of the performance of referee Ben O'Keefe.

It was certainly not an easy afternoon for O'Keefe, but he did a lot of his job very well. His composure was excellent, his scrum sanction was accurate and in line with World Rugby's latest law emphasis points, while I thought he sold his decisions to the players really well.

That said, there were a number of calls that infuriated Australia - although I feel most of them were correct by the letter of the law.

The two yellow cards in the first half, for instance, were certainly not bad decisions. O'Keefe said that Australia offended four times in one minute before Michael Hooper was sin-binned, and if that is the case then they can have few complaints.


I also had little sympathy for Kurtley Beale over his yellow card for a deliberate knock-on. He claimed he was trying to catch the ball, but I do not believe he could have done so.

The decision to disallow Hooper's try was also fair enough. The Australian captain was clearly in front of the kicker when the ball was hacked through, and he made little attempt to stop running forward. O'Keefe was well within his rights to penalise as a result.

That said, I think some of the more liberal referees might have given it.

Hooper was onside within a matter of strides and the few steps he took may have had no material effect on the score. I do, though, have great sympathy with Australia over Elliot Daly's try, which was a critical score at a critical time in the game. It is an incredibly tight call but on certain angles - particularly the one from behind the tryline - part of the ball appears to brush the line. For me this was clear, so I can understand it adding to the Wallabies' sense of grievance.

Then there was Marika Karoibete's disallowed score with the game at 13-6.

To start with, I feel O'Keefe was influenced by Owen Farrell in arriving at his decision.

When the "try" was scored, the referee was happy to look solely at the grounding but was persuaded by Farrell to check for obstruction by Stephen Moore. I believe World Rugby are trying to stop too much harassment of referees by players in this type of situation, and while I understand why, referees don't help themselves by not picking up the big issues around these decisions.

As for the decision, I again agree with it. Moore was in front of Karoibete and there was then physical contact between him and Chris Robshaw as the Englishman went to tackle. In a situation such as this I would ask myself one question - did the tackler make their preferred tackle, or were they prevented from doing so by the presence of an offside player? What I mean is that although Robshaw made a tackle, was it the type of tackle he would have made to give himself the best chance of preventing a try if Moore had not been there? I would argue he did not. Therefore disallowing the try was the correct call.

It was certainly a difficult game to referee, and there were times where I felt O'Keefe's inexperience did show. I would have thought, for example, that a five-metre scrum with a big blind was a great try scoring option in those conditions rather than a penalty quite far out. A quick interaction with the Australian captain would have been desirable and shown the correct empathy and nous.