Neil Jenkins warned for criticising referee while on pitch as ‘waterboy’

Mathieu Raynal wags his finger at Neil Jenkins - Neil Jenkins warned for criticising referee while on pitch as 'waterboy'
Mathieu Raynal wags his finger at 'waterboy' Neil Jenkins

Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins was nearly sent off after challenging referee Mathieu Raynal during a water break in Wales’s wooden spoon defeat by Italy.

Jenkins took to the field in the 24th minute of the Six Nations match, when Wales were trailing 11-0 after a Monty Ioane try, to remonstrate with the French referee over an alleged high tackle by Italy’s scrum-half, Stephen Varney.

Jenkins was cautioned by Raynal after accusing the official of missing the incident.

“Blue nine, high tackle,” Jenkins can be heard saying to Raynal.

“Your job is to bring the water on,” said Raynal.

Jenkins forcefully replied: “And your job is to ref the game.”

“That’s the second time you’ve talked to me – I don’t accept that,” countered Raynal.

“Blue nine – all our staff are saying it,” persisted Jenkins.

“Next time, you cannot enter on the field, do you understand?” responded Raynal.

The scene was reminiscent of Rassie Erasmus’s water-carrying controversies, with the South Africa director of rugby renowned for entering the field of play to deliver messages to players during the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour.

Erasmus raised eyebrows when he performed the role during the series in South Africa, before World Rugby introduced a global trial limiting the opportunity for non-playing personnel to enter the field of play during a match.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland would not be drawn on his colleague’s behaviour but insisted Varney’s tackle on Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams was “definitely high”.

The incident was initially flagged by an assistant referee and referred to Joy Neville, the television match official, who decided not to take any further action.

“The high tackle call came from the assistant referee, against them on red nine [Tomos Williams]. It’s gone to the TMO and she’s basically said ‘play on’,” said Gatland.

“But we’ve looked at it and he was definitely taken high. I think he [Neil] was upset about that, but it wasn’t called as a high tackle.”

Warren Gatland and kicking coach Neil Jenkins
Wales kicking coach Jenkins (right) with head coach Warren Gatland - Getty Images/Ian Cook

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