He’s been cast as the villain of the Rugby World Cup, but you’ve almost got to feel sorry for Third Match Official Ben Skeen after his latest blunder.
Having been at the heart of several contentious decisions during the tournament, the New Zealander was called into action late in the first quarter-final in Oita as the Wallabies battled hard to get back into the game against a rampant England outfit.
Australian winger Marika Koroibete had streaked away to seemingly score a try that would have cut England’s lead to 40-21 with a kick to come, however French referee Jerome Garces wanted a second look at an earlier very suspect pass from Michael Hooper down a shortside.
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To the surprise of many, Skeen declared there was insuficient evidence to rule the pass forward — a decision that was promptly over-ruled by Garces.
That prompted Fox Rugby commentator Rod Kafer to come up with an all-time zinger.
“I haven’t seen Ben Skeen get one call right the whole tournament,” Kafer quipped. “Even when he tries to let them off he gets them wrong.
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It was Skeen who sparked outrage after he ruled Samu Kerevi had acted illegally in one ball-carrying run in the pool loss to Wales, penalising the Wallabies at a crucial stage of the game.
He was also directly responsible for two yellow cards in Wales’ win over Fiji that knocked the Fijians out of the tournament.
That drew a withering riposte from Fox Rugby commentator Drew Mitchell.
“I just think honestly it comes down to Ben Skeen,” Mitchell said at the time.
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“We talk about players when they don’t perform they got dropped. Ben Skeen should be dropped, not on this performance alone.
“In every game that he has been the TMO at this Rugby World Cup he thinks the World Cup has been put on for Ben Skeen.
“He honestly needs to be stood down because he is just having too much impact on games.
“It is not just the amount of times he is coming in, it is how many angles he is asking for and his communication in how he speaks to the referee. It drags it out.
“The amount of times when Ben Skeen is TMO and the play is stopped and we are all just sitting here for the game to restart it is honestly beyond … I have to stop there I’m getting too frustrated.”
Fellow pundit Greg Martin agreed.
“There is a common denominator Ben Skeen making a few more errors,” Martin said.
“He goes looking for things that don’t exist half the time.”