All Blacks to ap­proach of­fi­cials over late call

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The All Blacks said they would ques­tion match of­fi­cials over a con­tro­ver­sial late ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sion af­ter a 15-15 draw left their se­ries with the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions tied yes­ter­day. While Lions coach War­ren Gat­land praised his cap­tain Sam War­bur­ton as “as­tute” over the piv­otal in­ci­dent, All Blacks boss Steve Hansen said there would be dis­cus­sions in pri­vate.

With the third-Test scores tied at the death, ref­eree Ro­main Poite awarded the All Blacks a kick­able penalty for off­side, but down­graded the pun­ish­ment to a scrum af­ter a plea by War­bur­ton. “We all know what hap­pened and we all know prob­a­bly what should have hap­pened but at the end of the day it’s a game and as lit­tle kids we were taught to take the good with the bad,” Hansen said.

“We’re ac­cept­ing of what­ever de­ci­sions were made and whether we agree with them or not is some­thing we’ll do our talk­ing to the ref­er­ees about.” Lions hooker Ken Owens was ini­tially pe­nalised for il­le­gally play­ing the ball in front of Liam Wil­liams, who spilled the kick­off af­ter Owen Far­rell had lev­elled the scores with 180 sec­onds left.

But af­ter con­fer­ring with his as­sis­tants, Poite de­cided Owens’ of­fence was ac­ci­den­tal and down­graded the pun­ish­ment to a scrum. “There’s no point ask­ing me about it. I told you I’m not go­ing to talk about it. It’s a de­ci­sion the ref’s made and we’ll live with it,” Hansen said.

Lions coach War­ren Gat­land de­flected ques­tions about whether it should have been a penalty, in­stead prais­ing the quick-think­ing War­bur­ton. “He’s been quite smart and as­tute in be­ing able to talk the ref­eree from a penalty into an ac­ci­den­tal off­side,” said Gat­land.

But not even War­bur­ton was sure he was right. “It’s a shot to noth­ing at that point. He awarded the penalty and it’s worth ask­ing the ques­tion to be fair,” the Lions skip­per said.

“When you think back to the (2015) World Cup and that hap­pened to Scot­land against Aus­tralia, and they kicked the penalty and the Scots were an­gry with that, I re­mem­ber think­ing ‘There’s got to be an al­ter­na­tive to that’.”

It was an in­ci­dent that lit up so­cial me­dia, with even for­mer Lions say­ing it should have been a penalty to New Zealand.

“It should have been a penalty to the All Blacks at the death. Ro­main Poite has done the Lions a huge favour there,” said for­mer Lions and Wales flanker Mar­tyn Wil­liams. “Whether he’s bot­tled it, only he knows. You very rarely see a ref­eree change his de­ci­sion.”

For­mer Eng­land and Lions scrum-half Matt Daw­son said: “Ken Owens was in front of Liam Wil­liams, he had plenty of time to skirt out the way and not touch the ball.

“He went to play the ball, then took his hands away. That was a sign he’d made a mas­sive er­ror, that was a penalty.”


AUCKLAND: Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions head coach War­ren Gat­land watches play dur­ing the third and fi­nal rugby test be­tween the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions and the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland.

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