Hansen blasts big-screen replays
It is one of rugby’s great anomalies, and Steve Hansen has had enough of it.
The All Blacks coach issued a calculated, impassioned and reasoned blast at the influence home-town big screen operators continue to have over on-field decisions in high-level matches in the wake of his second-string team’s exhilarating 28-23 victory over a furious French XV in Lyon.
It wasn’t a knee-jerk, sour grapes-type lament either from the All Blacks maestro over the way events unfolded in front of a vocal crowd just a smidgen under 60,000-strong at Groupama Stadium.
His team won the match, so he was speaking from the strongest position possible. He wasn’t jaundiced by defeat or wound up by the emotions of an injustice costing him a result.
No, this was just pure and plain concern over a trend that is coming into rugby. Two big decisions went against the All Blacks over the closing stages of their four tries to three win that was made more difficult by the sinbinning of centre Jack Goodhue with a dozen minutes to play.
Both of them appeared to be influenced by replays on the big screen that were then picked up by the crowd, and subsequently led to the TMO jumping in.
The first came, in the 65th minute, when replacement prop Atu Moli was judged to have run an interference line, and the referee finally went to the TMO just as Richie Mo’unga was lining up a shot at goal for the All Blacks. The decision was reversed to a French relieving penalty.
And the second came when Goodhue was adjudged to have clipped a French support runner 12 minutes from time, and was sent to the bin.
The incident was missed initially, but was soon revisited when the fans voiced their ire.
Hansen initially spoke about how proud he was of his inexperienced young team holding on for victory in the face of a ferocious French challenge, but then morphed into his complaints around the big screen operator’s influence.
The crux of his point revolves around the fact that these bigscreen replays of key incidents only ever involve decisions which favour the home team.
There is never emphasis on a decision that goes against the visitors.
It is not the first time Hansen has lamented the influence of the in-ground replay official.
He complained vociferously back in 2014 in Johannesburg when the All Blacks lost a test to the Springboks when a Liam Messam infringement was picked up on the back of repeated bigscreen replays. Pat Lambie slotted the resultant match-winning penalty from his own side of halfway.
‘‘We played the way we wanted to play, but every time we got a bit of momentum, we allowed them back in through sometimes not all our own fault,’’ said Hansen at the post-game media conference in Lyon.
‘‘The disappointing point at times is when people running the big screen get to control the game. So World Rugby need to do something about that.’’
Asked to clarify his comments, the All Blacks coach went further with his complaint.
‘‘You can’t be tried by the big screen. It’s either the TMO or the ref that are going to do that.
‘‘If you keep showing it on the big screen and the crowd starts going crazy, you get decisions turned around. They only show what they want to show, and I think it was poor.’’
Hansen was then asked if he had taken his complaints on the big screen influence to World Rugby.
‘‘What do you think? Do you think it should be a trial by people running the big screen, or should the referee be the sole judge?
Hansen said they had complained to World Rugby after the South African game back in 2014, and they would again after this one.
Loose forward Liam Squire was one of the best All Blacks against the French XV in Lyon.