This lack of appropriate disciplinary action on the pitch by the referee endangers the players and sets a terrible example for a sport that is trying to break into the mainstream in many countries including Canada and the USA.
This type of match demands a lot of the match officials, but it appears that today, they were not up top the challenge. It started early on when the Lions, behind 7-0, broke the line and Ugo Monye rumbled over the try line in the corner. As the grounding was questionable, the referee right called on the Television Match Official (TMO) for clarification.
If England are being more closely watched by the referees (and the fact that the Welsh were not penalized as severely as the English supports this notion) I think this is completely appropriate. The onus is then on the team to keep a good ‘reputation’ by respecting the laws.
None of this compares however to the feeling i get while watching test rugby. Since the skill level is so high, the referees generally allow many things that would be free-kicks or penalties at the amateur level. The best example is the use of hands in the ruck. It is generally now accepted that the ball carrier will twist his body (when possible) and stick the ball out of the back of the ruck. It is very rare these days to actually see other participants in the ruck actually using their feet to free-up the ball.
International Rugby Board Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien explains the Stellenbosch experimental law variations and their status with the IRB. This is part 1 of the 20 minute video.