International referees boss Paddy O'Brien has said that the 10 men who will take charge of the Rugby World Cup matches will be told to toughen up.
O'Brien says the referees will be told to toughen up in five key areas because "the (referees') foot has come off the throat."
IRB referee manager O'Brien says he has noticed a relaxation of standards by test referees, particularly around the offside line and at the tackled ball.
He said the IRB was determined the World Cup which starts Friday would deliver a better spectacle than the last tournament which was dominated by kicking and defense.
But O'Brien's comments to the New Zealand Herald have awoken disquiet among fans and commentators that rugby's showcase tournament may again be dominated by overzealous refereeing.