Hansen turns whistleblower
A frustrated Steve Hansen has fired a rocket at World Rugby, demanding they improve their leadership, listen to coaches and move with the times.
All Blacks coach Hansen, speaking in the aftermath of his side’s 3-0 series win over France in New Zealand, accepted he could ‘‘get a slap on the knuckles for talking too much’’ but by delivering a broadside at World Rugby he hopes the sport will benefit from progressive change.
The 2018 tests have been marred by controversial decisions from officials. Hansen said World Rugby needs to move with the times.
‘‘It has got to a point where we have got to do something. Because it is starting to affect the game,’’ Hansen said yesterday.
The recent tests against France have been loaded with controversial issues. During the All Blacks’ 49-14 win over France in Dunedin on Saturday night the tourists were incensed that Damian Mckenzie was awarded a try when it appeared Baptiste Serin had been blocked by referee John Lacey.
During the second test French fullback Benjamin Fall was red carded by ref Angus Gardner when he collided with Beauden Barrett in the air. In a bizarre twist, Gardner was later thrown under the bus by World Rugby who said he was wrong to send Fall off. And on Saturday night, the Wallabies blew up when Israel Folau was yellow carded for a similar incident.
Hansen said the game has changed because it was faster and was so fluid but World Rugby hasn’t moved with the times.
‘‘We haven’t really changed the way we ref. We are still doing it the way we used to. We are saying there is one guy controlling the game all the time and he is not. The TMO last night [in Dunedin] had a lot to say in it.’’
During the test at Forsyth Barr Stadium blindside flanker Shannon Frizell appeared to have scored, something Lacey confirmed. Yet TMO George Ayoub disagreed: ‘‘I heard the referee say ‘I saw a clear grounding’ and then the try is not awarded,’’ Hansen said. ‘‘So who is controlling the game?’’
Five years ago Hansen and several other coaches suggested World Rugby introduce a ‘‘challenge’’ system but got nowhere.
‘‘Get rid of the TMO and say ‘righto coaches, you get two challenges’. If your challenge is correct, then you keep your two challenges. If you don’t you lose it.’’
The problem for World Rugby is that if it refuses to listen to suggestions from the likes of Hansen and co, it will alienate its referees. Hansen spoke to Gardner, an assistant referee in Dunedin, and the latter said he was confused by World Rugby’s decision to rub out Fall’s red card.
The referees need more direction and support, Hansen said: ‘‘It is affecting the people reffing the game,’’ he said. ‘‘They are doing their very best. I was talking to Gus [Angus Gardner] and he is shrugging his shoulders [saying] ‘what do I do?’
‘‘I said ‘well, you can’t do anything other than what you did’.’’
Hansen was asked how can he and his partners at NZ Rugby can get World Rugby to tune in to these messages.
‘‘To get them to listen? If you can answer that you are a better man than me,’’ he said. ‘‘I am not sure. You have just got to keep talking to them, I suppose. I think they have set a precedence, haven’t they, when Angus [Gardner] did everything by the book with the French red card and then they let him off.
‘‘They now have to go away and have a look at it themselves.’’