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Difference between writing stuff directly into URDF vs. into <gazebo reference=""> tags?

Hello, I'm wondering what the <gazebo reference=""> tag actually does? Is there a difference between writing stuff directly into a URDF file and writing it into a <gazebo reference=""> tag?

E.g. I can set mue for a link as follows:

 <contact_coefficient mu="100000"  resitution="0"  k_p="0"  k_d="100" />

But also via the tag

 <gazebo reference="link">

What's the difference?