The head of referees in England, Tony Spreadbury, has defended throwing in younger officials after they came in for criticism.
Sale boss Steve Diamond was critical of Greg MacDonald's recent performance after his side lost to London Irish, while Craig Maxwell-Keys came under fire after red carding Nathan Hughes during Wasps' recent loss to Northampton.
Spreadbury defended both young officials, adding that both would be stronger for their experiences, while also taking responsibility.
“The referee at London Irish v Sale had a tough day. That’s down to me, I accept full responsibility in all appointments and we’ve fully supported Greg since," Spreadbury told The Rugby Paper.
“It’s important to get the selection right and on that day I probably didn’t. We want to develop referees and, like players, they have bad days. But we’ve reviewed it, he’ll be a better ref for it and he’ll come back stronger.
“Craig had performed really well in the Championship and U20s and deserved a game. You look at intensity and difficulty and in my view he was ready for the fast tempo.
"Obviously the incident with the red card brought things to a head but we all make a judgment call and that’s packed away. But I was really pleased with his second half where he did not drop away after that big decision.
“I thought that showed massive character and we have to bring these guys through. We’ve had situations in the past when we’ve had just seven Premiership referees and there’s been no competition for games.
“But there is competition within the group now and Greg and Craig are certainly not precluded from the end of season run-in.”