Hansen blasts big-screen re­plays

The Timaru Herald - - TECHNOLOGY&SCIENCE - MARC HIN­TON IN LYON

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.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Loose for­ward Liam Squire was one of the best All Blacks against the French XV in Lyon.

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