NZ Rugby World - - Outside Influences -

Failed World Cup bids are a ma­jor part of New Zealand rugby his­tory, but few hurt more than the 2007 catas­tro­phe.

The All Blacks played badly in their quar­ter­fi­nal and weren’t good enough to beat France on the day. But they were also hob­bled by a ter­ri­ble per­for­mance by match ref­eree Wayne Barnes, who failed to see an ob­vi­ous for­ward pass in the build up to France’s win­ning try and didn’t award the All Blacks a penalty in 65 min­utes of rugby de­spite them dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion.

Barnes be­came a pub­lic en­emy af­ter the game and the re­ac­tion to his per­for­mance was the first time that it be­came ap­par­ent how vul­ner­a­ble and ex­posed match of­fi­cials in big games are.

He had to go into hid­ing such was the ire and All Blacks coach Gra­ham Henry was so shocked by the per­for­mance that he even sus­pected match fix­ing.

He said, “I have been in­volved in 140 test matches and 20 years of coach­ing at the pro­vin­cial level or the level above it and years of coach­ing in­ter­na­tional rugby and I’ve never been in­volved in a game that was like this game.”

Barnes’s per­for­mance in­flu­enced in a num­ber of ways. It helped elim­i­nate the All Blacks from an­other World Cup and forced them to ex­ten­sively adapt fu­ture cam­paigns. It forced World Rugby to care­fully look at ref­eree ap­point­ments to never again give such a young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced ref­eree a ma­jor ap­point­ment and it opened ev­ery­one’s eyes to the in­flu­ence a ref­eree can have.

PUB­LIC EN­EMY The per­for­mance of Wayne Barnes taught the All Blacks that they had to ex­pect the un­ex­pected at World Cups.

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