Rugby World Cup 2015: Referees to watch for 'football-style' cheating

Yoann Huget
After feigning injury, Yoann Huget apologised for his "inappropriate gesture", saying it "did not reflect the values of rugby"
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra, BBC local radio, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website.
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World Cup referees have been told to clamp down on "football-style" diving and appealing for penalties.

Players who feign injury will get a yellow card and 10 minutes in the sin bin, while teams who badger officials will be marched 10 metres back.

World Rugby's match officials chief John Jeffrey said simulation would be "very heavily" sanctioned.

"There is a culture creeping in, I call it the football culture, of simulation, people appealing and players diving."

Simulation is not specifically banned in rugby union's laws but it will be treated as "ungentlemanly conduct".

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Jeffrey, a former Scotland and British and Irish Lions flanker, referred to "a couple" of recent incidents of diving.

Last season, Toulouse wing Yoann Huget was given a warning for deliberately feigning an injury in a European Champions Cup game against Bath, while Bryan Habana apologised after attempting to gain a penalty for Toulon against Saracens in the 2014 Heineken Cup final.

Jeffrey added that it was important to protect rugby union's "values" for fair play and respect, and said all 20 teams at the World Cup had been briefed.

Former Ireland winger Denis Hickie said it is important "the haranguing of referees" and diving is not allowed to take hold in rugby union as it has in football.

"I don't think there's any harm that World Rugby are making a point in this World Cup to make sure it doesn't go any further," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"As the game becomes more professional, the margins become tighter, players become more and more desperate to win games.

"Let's hope it's just through scoring points and not by looking for other players to be sent off."

Challenges on players who have left the ground to catch the ball and dangerous play at rucks and mauls will also be a particular focus - and match officials have been asked to police offside more vigilantly and try to ensure attacking teams get faster ball.

To help do all this, there will be greater use of Hawk-Eye and video replay technology and more provision for post-match citations for incidents the officials miss.

Players caught diving on camera can expect a warning from citing commissioners, the equivalent of a yellow card.

Three yellow cards or warnings will result in an automatic hearing to decide if a player should get a one-match ban for repeat offending.

Jeffrey was speaking at Twickenham on Wednesday as the governing body outlined its plans for the tournament, which starts on Friday when England meet Fiji.

An integrity unit will watch for match-fixing, independent concussion experts will assess head injuries and there will be a record number of drugs tests, some of which will be stored for reanalysis.

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