Luke Pearce and the other referees at the Rugby World Cup are not wearing watches due to a dispute with the tournament’s sponsor, Tudor. The referees believe that they are the sole judges of time and therefore do not need watches. However, this can be challenging without a timepiece. If you observe any of the referees closely at the tournament, you will notice that while they have a whistle on one wrist, the other wrist is bare. This is because of a disagreement with Tudor, a Swiss watchmaker and the official timekeeper of the tournament.
Tudor signed a seven-year agreement with World Rugby in 2017, making them the official timekeeper for various rugby events. However, this year, Tudor decided not to provide the referees with watches because they were unhappy that a retired referee from the 2019 World Cup had sold his Tudor watch after the tournament. The referees were unaware that this was not allowed and were only informed of Tudor’s decision last week. Despite sending strong-worded emails to Tudor, the company did not change their stance.
As a result, the referees collectively decided to boycott all timepieces for the duration of the tournament. This is the first time in the history of the World Cup that the official timekeepers are not wearing watches. The referees have found it challenging to keep track of time without quick access to a watch, especially during warm-up routines and when keeping penalty counts. The dispute between the referees and Tudor has caused some confusion and frustration.