LONDON • Referee Craig Joubert fled "hostility" when he ran off the pitch after awarding a controversial penalty that secured Australia's World Cup semi-final place at Scotland's expense, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper suggested yesterday.
"Maybe he was keen to get to the bathroom, who knows?" the Australian told BBC radio.
"I'm sure as a referee, he sensed a bit of hostility.
"When you have a hostile 82,000 people, for whatever reason, who knows how that affects behaviour."
Joubert awarded the Wallabies a penalty, which was later proved to be an incorrect decision, with 43 seconds of the match left.
Bernard Foley kicked the penalty to complete a dramatic 35-34 victory for Australia and rob Scotland of a place in the last four.
Upon blowing for full-time, the South African official then sprinted to the Twickenham stands without shaking the hands of any of the players, as boos rang round the stadium.
I am going to tell him how disgusted I am. It was disgraceful that he ran straight off the pitch at the end like that.''
GAVIN HASTINGS, former Scotland player, on referee Craig Joubert sprinting off the pitch without shaking players' hands
WE WON FAIRLY
If you kick a goal to win a game with a minute to go it's usually an escape but, given we scored five tries, we deserve to be up there.''
MICHAEL CHEIKA, Australia coach, who believes they were the better team overall
World Rugby was expected to publish its review into the performance of Joubert later yesterday.
"Mistakes do happen but it's a tough job," Gosper added. "There's a review taking place of all aspects, including his exit from the pitch."
The reviews of a referee's performance are carried out after each match, not just when a controversial moment has occurred.
"The referee has not explained to me why he did that (ran off the pitch). Craig is one of our top referees, a good man and he will have had his reasons," Gosper added. "We don't know what was in his head. We are in the process of working that through."
Joubert's controversial decision to award Australia a penalty for an accidental Scotland offside was later shown to be wrong.
Australia scrum-half Nick Phipps admitted he had deliberately attempted to win the loose ball that then struck the Scotland open-side flanker John Hardie. His intent to win the ball cleared Hardie of accidental offside.
"I think everyone was trying to win the ball. We were all going for it," Phipps said.
Joubert's judgment and rapid departure from the field provoked a furious response.
The former Scotland player Gavin Hastings said: "If I see referee Craig Joubert again, I am going to tell him how disgusted I am. It was disgraceful that he ran straight off the pitch at the end like that."
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson, a World Cup winner in 2003, said on Twitter: "Craig Joubert you are a disgrace and should never referee again!!"
Greig Laidlaw, the Scotland captain, said he had asked Joubert "on several occasions" to review the decision.
Despite World Rugby introducing Hawk-Eye technology for the World Cupto ensure that all the key decisions are correct, the regulations prevent use of the television match official (TMO) unless it is foul play or a try-scoring situation.
"They have got the TMO for everything else, it's such a big decision, why would you not get the TMO for that?" scrum-half Laidlaw argued.
Australia coach Michael Cheika reckoned it was simply another example of rugby's slim margins. He said: "That's the way it works. That's life... You've still got to kick it when you get it. If you kick a goal to win a game with a minute to go it's usually an escape but, given we scored five tries, we deserve to be up there."
It was heartbreaking for Scotland, who were less than two minutes from a shock victory and their first World Cup semi-final in 24 years.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE