World Rugby deny Sevens referee apology

World Rugby have denied that under-fire referee Matt O'Brien has apologised to South Africa Sevens after they were defeated in Wellington.

O'Brien came in for heavy criticism for some of his decisions as New Zealand came from behind to win the final of the Wellington Sevens.

Reports this week suggested that O'Brien had reached out to apologise to the Blitzboks when O'Brien and South Africa head coach Neil Powell met in Sydney – something World Rugby has now flatly denied.

"It is factually incorrect to state that Matt O'Brien issued a 'heartfelt' apology to the South Africa Seven coach Neil Powell following last weekend's Wellington Sevens. This simply did not happen," a World Rugby spokesman told Stuff.

"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."

The South Africa coach had previously been quoted saying to Supersport: "It was really honest and open, and I think he realised at times he had made big mistakes. I think his apologies were sincere. He apologised to me for the way he refereed the game."

O'Brien is the son of former referee and current World Rugby Sevens Referees boss Paddy O'Brien.