Divers face World Cup punishment

Date published: September 17 2015

Any player caught diving at the Rugby World Cup faces being yellow-carded as part of a crackdown on 'football culture'.

John Jeffery, the chairman of the World Rugby match officials selection committee, revealed two days out from the start of the tournament that any acts of simulation would be severely punished by referees.

And if offences are not caught during the game, a citing commissioner warning – a punishment which is already used in the European Champions Cup and Super Rugby – will be handed out to players.

"There is a culture creeping in," said Jeffrey.

"I call it the football culture, of simulation, people appealing to the referee, players – and it has happened a couple of times – diving.

"That is going to be sanctioned very heavily in this tournament. We are the showcase of our rugby event and it's very, very important that we keep our values there and referees have been asked to sanction very heavily on that."

While diving is not widespread in the sport, there have been some notable examples in recent seasons, with Bryan Habana and Yoann Huget both apologising after they were caught feigning injury in European games.

And although there is no specific mention of diving in the lawbook, the offence will be treated as ungentlemanly conduct and be sanctioned with an automatic yellow card.

As well as diving, Jeffery explained that players pestering referees will face warnings as well as being told to retreat ten metres by officials.

"We have the punishment in rugby that you can march somebody back 10 metres," the former Scotland flanker added.