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TMO torture has rugby in state of angst but respect for referees is sacrosanct | Robert Kitson

When was the last time you saw a team marched back 10 metres for disrespecting the referee? It’s time for World Rugby to get tough on players and coaches

For those in charge of promoting rugby’s core values these are once again uncomfortable times. Take your pick from ranting Test coaches, big games awash with gamesmanship, mounting strain on referees and invasive technology with a depressing sprinkle of premature retirements and concussions on top. It is not a life-enhancing list.

No one wants passionless sport, played in silence and officiated by robots. Equally, it is increasingly clear top-level rugby is less healthy in body and soul than some like to imagine. Even the most uplifting bits – Doddie Weir and his sons taking the match ball out at Murrayfield, Scotland’s thrilling effort to topple the All Blacks – are disappearing into the maelstrom, with the investigation of Michael Cheika’s weekend conduct at Twickenham the latest example.

Related: Michael Cheika facing World Rugby investigation for conduct during England v Australia

Related: Warren Gatland hits back at New Zealand media before Wales v All Blacks

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