French press reacts to controversy over French official in wheelchair final suggesting there was bias towards England

On Friday night, a lot of talk after the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup Final centred around official Laurent Abrial.

The French official somewhat stole the spotlight away from a terrific final as many felt his behaviour on the touchline was “unprofessional” as the commentary team called it.

Now, French rugby league publication Treize Mondial have had their say conceding that he was in the wrong but claiming that their was bias towards England as well.

They said: “During the final of the Rugby League Wheelchair World Cup Final, Laurent Abrial caused plenty of talk about himself as he officiated on the edge of the field and his behaviour has been a talking point across the Channel.

“The controversy has been enormous in England. Several things have been complained about pertaining to the French referee starting with the refusal of Jack Brown’s try in the first half which to the English press seemed very valid. His attitude at the edge of the pitch in the second half has also been pointed out as well as his reaction after the winning try was given when he seemed to explain to his colleague that he felt it should have been disallowed.

“It is difficult to dispute that the attitude of the French referee is not appropriate for a World Cup Final. Laurent Abrial seems to have lost his temper and on this there is nothing to complain about. However, this final played by incredible athletes was generally marked by a biased refereeing on both sides that has no place at this level of competition and the English seem to forget that a little.

“For 80 minutes, we witnessed something unfortunate for wheelchair rugby. All the decisions of the British referees were in favour of the English and all those of the French referees were in favour of the Blues. In the end neither team was advantaged because the referees went blow for blow stealing the spotlight from the players.

“Beyond the controversy created by the attitude of the French official, solutions must be found before 2025 so that the refereeing is at the level of the athletes who have once again shown how Wheelchair rugby is an exceptional sport. There will also be the question raised by the French coach, namely that of players with disabilities in this sport that is becoming more and more spectacular, intense and violent at times.”

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