World Rugby: O’Brien didn’t apologise

World Rugby has denied that controversial referee Matt O'Brien apologised to Blitzboks coach Neil Powell following his performance in the Wellington Sevens final.

O'Brien took charge of the Cup final between the Blitzboks and New Zealand, and was widely criticised for his performance which resulted in a nine to one penalty count in favour of the hosts.

Although word from the Blitzboks camp was that they've put game and outcome behind them, Powell and O'Brien met in Sydney on Wednesday along with World Rugby Sevens assessor Tappe Henning, and the referee allegedly issued an apology.

'I sat with him and we went through the second half of the game and he explained his decisions. It was really honest and open, and I think he realised at times he had made big mistakes. I think his apologies were sincere and he had tears in his eyes,' Powell told

However, World Rugby has since denied this.

'It's factually incorrect to state that Matt O'Brien issued a heartfelt apology to Neil Powell following last weekend's Wellington Sevens. This simply did not happen,' said a World Rugby spokesperson.

'Coach feedback is an important part of the 360-degree match officials review process and while O'Brien and Powell did jointly review the performance, there was no apology required and none offered. Powell has since informed World Rugby that he was misquoted.'

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty

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