The uncomfortable truth - Romain got it right - Green and Gold Rugby
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The uncomfortable truth – Romain got it right

The uncomfortable truth – Romain got it right

It was the biggest call in the biggest match of the biggest series. And Romain Poite got it bang on.

Despite the 235 minutes of amazing rugby that led to it, Romain Poite’s call on a botched Lions kick-off reception will be the one that attracts most of the post-game attention. I couldn’t sit back and allow a series of partisan Kiwi or British numbskulls dominate the discussion. Here is my opinion, which let’s face it is the only one you ever really need.

The Incident

You’ve seen it a few times by now, but have a look at it again. It’s one of the most interesting four minute stretches I have ever seen on a rugby field:

 

The Process

Let’s walk through this in detail, because it’s pivotal in working out how Poite came to the decision he did.

Firstly it’s important to note that Poite had been having a good game up until this point. There were a few controversial calls, but you can never escape that as a referee. In my view he hadn’t made any clangers, and the game had flowed nicely with both teams evenly matched across the field.

ytiCPLoKAnd then we get to the 78th minute. Owen Farrell has just levelled the scores, and Beauden Barrett lofts the kick-off into centrefield. Liam Williams fumbles it forward, and the ball falls into the breadbasket of Lions substitute hooker Ken Owens.

Poite instantly blows a penalty to New Zealand. Chaos ensues. Instantly, the gravity of this decision hits Poite – there is a 98% chance this hands the game (and the series) to the All Blacks. It’s eerily reminiscent of what happened in the Scotland vs Wallabies Quarter Final in 2015, and unquestionably the single most important refereeing decision of the decade. The audio isn’t great at this point, but it appears Poite responds to a complaint from Sam Warburton that Williams was unfairly challenged in the air by Kieran Read.

This is very convenient for Romain. He gets a chance to take a deep breath and look at the decision he has just made. He consults George Ayoub, and once the aerial challenge complaint is dealt with (Read clearly has eyes for the ball and challenges fairly) he posits that Owens has played the ball in an offside position. Ayoub agrees, and it’s settled – an All Black penalty. But then it all changes…

Romain has to walk about 20m back to the captains. You can see his brain turning over, realising the gravity of the decision he has to make. He has seen Craig Joubert become a pariah by making a very similar decision. Unlike Joubert or Wayne Barnes, Romain is not a referee who craves being the centre of attention in the big moments. He knows he is in a totally untenable position, and is broadly screwed no matter what decision he makes. An All Black penalty will echo through rugby history, or at least the next 12 years…

… So he doesn’t blow it. In that 20m he changes his mind and opts to call a scrum with an All Black feed.

The Decision

Now we come to the hard part. Did he get it right? For this we need to go to the law books. Here is the definition of ‘offside’ in this context (11.1b):

A player who is offside must not take part in the game. This means the player must not play the ball or obstruct an opponent. Sanction = Penalty.

Here is the definition of ‘accidental offside’ (11.6a):

When an offside player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a team-mate carrying it, the player is accidentally offside. Sanction = Scrum

The key consideration here is intent. Did Ken Owens ‘play the ball’? Or was his contact with it unavoidable?

I don’t think there is a black-and-white answer if I’m honest. It’s clear he does hold the ball for a fraction of a second. But I also think that is almost impossible not to do in that circumstance. His play wasn’t cynical, or designed to give the Lions an advantage. He clearly had no idea what was going on.

You could make a solid case for both courses of action, and it’s why this is such an interesting discussion.

Romain-Poite

The Moment

Ian Smith says at one point ‘I wonder if he’d have ruled that way if it was the first minute and not the last’. It’s a fair observation, and the answer is ‘probably not’. But the notion that this decision needed to be treated like all others is completely misguided in my opinion. And it’s why I think Romain got it right.

The game rested on that moment. Though in some ways we want purity in all officiating decisions, let’s be real here – it was a huge call and I think it’s unfair to suggest it should be treated like it was the first minute, or a Super game. A whole series depended on the call being correct, or at least not totally wrong.

In some ways, though, Poite made a complete hash of it. His communication to both captains is bewildering – ‘we have a deal’ he says, and I have no idea what he means. Neither does Kieran Read, who is understandably confused. He backflips on his conversation with Ayoub, and while his explanation to Read about why (‘the ball hit his shoulder’) was OK, it didn’t make any sense given the three minutes that led to it.

For the way the process was managed, Romain deserves some cricitism. But for the actual decision? I think it’s unwarranted (though I do think if the score was 12-10 instead of 12-12 the reaction may have been very, very different).

This has been an all-time series. To have it come down to a refereeing decision, no matter how obvious, would be a godawful shame. The core philosophy every referee should follow is to let the players decide the course of the game wherever possible.

Romain was faced with a grey area of law, where he had two options – decide the match himself, or leave it to the players. Knowing he would alienate millions of fans with either decision, he chose option b. And although the process was completely bungled, in my view his end decision was the correct one.

  • John Bands

    Hugh, I can’t believe I am reading this from you. The law relating to the accidental offside states that it’s an accidental offside if the player cannot avoid being touched by the ball. In this case, the player caught the ball, therefore he played at it. Totally different situation.

    You have also missed out on the other important issue. The referee has broken protocol by using the replay to clarify this penalty. He can’t use the TMO unless it’s for foul play, reviewing whether a try has been scored or for a potential knock on leading to a try. Whilst I realise he initially used the TMO to check if Read had made contact to the Lions player in the air, once that was sorted he then couldn’t use the footage to change his mind on the intial ruling.

    You are defending the indefensible. The ref got it 100% wrong.

    • Harbo

      And what about every other call in the game, will you scrutinise those as well?

      • John Bands

        What’s your point? We are talking about the most controversial call of the game. If there were others, we would be talking about those as well. He wrote an article on this incident so I am responding to this incident.

        • Harbo

          Your argument though is that in catching the ball he played at the ball. Catch or no catch the ball still would have hit him and I think the point of intent is very relevant here. He never changed his line, never tried to put himself in a position to catch that ball and the ball literally flew in to his bread basket. Pretty unintentional to me.

          I like your point about in the laws of the game not being able to change his mind after seeing the footage but I guess we are all only human!

        • John Bands

          The ball hitting him is fine and not an issue as long as he doesn’t play at it. The key distinction here is whether or not he played at the ball, which to me he clearly did.

          I will argue that he didn’t have intent when he caught the ball, but he still caught it as a reflex action. So yes, it wasn’t deliberate but the rules state that a penalty must be awarded if the ball is played at

          It sounds harsh but it’s no different to the penalty Faumaina conceded at the end of the 2nd test. Faumaina took the Lions player out in the air not deliberately as he was already committed to the tackle but the laws state otherwise and he was rightly penalised.

          This is still not the main reason as to wh NZ drew the game however. The had many chances and didn’t capitalise on them.

        • Harbo

          Fair points. The bigger issue here for me was that it was a draw. A draw at test level is a blight on Rugby! We need OT.

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      In this 12 second the refs got so many things wrong. Reid was just before the ball at kick off (although not clear and obvious), Reid had a fair challenge for the ball, however got the timing wrong and was not in a realistic position to catch the ball and should be penalised for playing Liam Williams in the air (Law 10.4(i)), It was not clear and obvious that the ball went forward from Williams to Owens (on review) and Owens played the ball. How so many top refs can get it so wrong in 12 seconds is a huge problem!

  • paul

    I agree regards this was the correct decision for rugby, did we really need what has been a fantastic series decided by a technicality, something that happens to often in rugby.

    Hansen has alluded to as much since the game, essentially saying it has to be made easier for the refs.

    There is not a scrum set in rugby that does not have a penalty in it somewhere which is fine for 78 mins and then we micro analysis the last 2 mins.

  • Pfitzy

    Even if the Lions player hadn’t moved his arm to catch it, its highly likely it would have touched him.

    Doesn’t save Poite from breaking TMO protocol.

    • jamie

      Did he? I thought they could ask the TMO for foul play. Offside is foul play is it not? I may be wrong, however.

      • Greg

        err I think you are :-)

        The possibility that he interfered with a man in the air would have been foul play.

      • Pfitzy

        You’d say, on the face of it, that if it had been blatantly intentional or a repeated offence, then yes (Law 10)

        However, the TMO usually doesn’t just get consulted for any old thing. Here is the TMO protocol:

        http://laws.worldrugby.org/downloads/TMO_Protocol_Aug_14_EN.pdf

        None of those situations cover what we’re seeing here:
        1. & 2. are dealing with in-goal
        3. The Lions are NOT the defending team in this instance, as the ABs don’t have the ball
        4. This doesn’t really reach the entry point for foul play IMHO

    • Hugh Cavill

      I think he went to the TMO to check for a challenge in the air, so technically he is OK in that regard.

      • Pfitzy

        Fair enough then if he was looking at Read. However, that being the case, the clear decision is to penalise Read.

        That jump reflects a couple of other decisions Read made during the game that had obvious intent to antagonise the Lions off the ball. A neck roll here, grabbing a jersey there (for which he was penalised).

  • Harrison W

    How about rule 11.7?

    “When a player knocks-on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to sanction if playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.”

    The World Rugby website provides a video example of 11.6 and 11.7 and to me 11.7 is the law that is the ‘most correct’ law to apply in this siutation.

    Obviously, the series goes beyond this sole decision, if SBW hadn’t been red carded (deservedly so), if Beauden Barrett didn’t miss multiple attempts on goal, if Julian Savea hadn’t dropped the pass with an open run to the try line etc etc.
    But despite all of those mistakes the All Blacks were still in with a chance to clinch the series, and a bad decision from Romain Poite cost them an opportunity to win it. George Ayoub, at least one of the touchies and Romain himself all agreed on the fact it was a penalty and then in the space of 20metres he had an epiphany and did a u-turn on his original decision AND the decision that had been confirmed by multiple officials.

    Romain also says “He didn’t deliberately play the ball”, I fail to see how catching the ball isn’t considered deliberately playing it.

    • Hugh Cavill

      He caught the ball on pure instinct though, and as soon as he realised what he did he put his hands in the air. I don’t know if he could have avoided ‘catching’ the ball, even for a split second. It fell right in his bread basket. So I don’t know if he did ‘play’ the ball, to me it’s a real 50/50.

      • Harbo

        To your point Hugh even if he didn’t catch the ball it would have hit him anyway resulting in a scrum. Either way you look at it, it’s a scrum!

        • Who?

          Not if he’d played advantage. If he’d done that, no one would remember this now… Which is a shame, for Romain.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah I agree it was instinct and yes he did immediately drop it and put his hands in the air. But that doesn’t matter. He played and caught the ball and then let it go. Nothing in the rules says that doing it instinctively is ok.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I think KRL is correct here, Hugh.

        I think you’re right that he instinctively caught the ball, but the fact is that it wasn’t that he ‘could not avoid being touched by the ball’, quite the opposite in fact.

        He would not have touched the ball if he hadn’t moved his hands to catch it. At the end of the day he instinctively reached out and touched it, but that required him to move his hands and to grasp it (even if it was instinctual).

        Therefore, I think (with hindsight) it probably should have been a penalty and not a scrum.

      • Gottsy

        Also, I don’t think there’s any difference in where the ball ended up and where it would have ended up if he never touched it, that might have influenced Poite’s decision too

      • Who?

        The rough thing about this whole thing is that everyone acted on instinct, and it’s hard to say that any of the initial instincts were wrong. Further, it’s hard to definitely say that the final decision was wrong.
        About the only thing that’s definitively wrong was that Romain – as is standard for NH refs – was too eager to blow his whistle. If he hadn’t, it may well have been that the ABs might’ve scored a try. In doing that, he still could’ve gone back to that knock on (if it were inside two phases) to check the contest in the air and the offside. If his ruling after that had been the same (and I think he got the call on the contest right – if anyone wants to complain about the contest, then surely Read can also complain about Te’o moving backwards to block him, which impacted his ability to compete for the ball (though I don’t think Te’o was really intentionally blocking)), then it becomes an irrelevance.
        So, for mine, it was the standard NH tendency to blow first, think later that put Romain into a position where he had to make a decision that was then able to be argued as having decided the test. Not ideal!

    • joy

      It’s called reflex and doesn’t require thought to happen.
      (Fish are too low on the evolutionary scale to exhibit consciousness but respond unconsciously to all sorts of stimuli. Humans respond both consciously and unconsciously to stimuli.)

      • Brent Craig

        If I “reflexively” stick out my arm as a player goes past me & collect him on the snoz I’m pretty sure I still get a red card, don’t I? A ref shouldn’t be trying to discern intent, just look at action & outcome.

        • joy

          A referee is required by the laws to consider intent to determine it an action is accidental or not.

        • EngineRoom

          Different issue entirely. In the case you provided, the ref has to consider danger the act cause don’t on the opposition player. Whether reflex or intent it still causes danger, meaning penalty at least. However catching the ball in an accidental position provides no danger to an opposition player

  • Pedro

    I agree it was the right call, but those stating the contrary also have a good case.

    The way the decision was made was the really weird part, as I think everyone would agree.

    Two points that I think are pertinent:

    Although the Owens clearly catches it, it appears like a reflex which is not a deliberate act.

    Has Williams knocked it on before Owens catches it? I mean he’s propelled it forwards certainly, but could it not be considered a forward pass?

    Another point is that despite missing out on a shot on goal the All Blacks still had possession via a scrum. From there they had a good platform, but opted to try and “milk” a penalty and in doing so lost control at the back.

    • John Bands

      ”Although the Owens clearly catches it, it appears like a reflex which is not a deliberate act.”

      That doesn’t matter. Intent is irrelevant. If he played at it, it’s a penalty. If the ball just hits him without him playing at it, it’s accidental. So it was clearly the wrong call.

      • Pedro

        Surely intent is required to play at the ball, making intent of the highest relevance.

        • John Bands

          Not necessarily. Could have been a reflex catch like you said. Either way, since he played at it, he should have been penalised. Those are the laws. And the ref broke protocol by changing his decision based on a replay which made it an even worse call.

        • Pedro

          Your initial point is something of a semantic argument, I think intent is necessary to “play at the ball” you do not. On this we can agree to disagree.

          Your second point is something of a red herring when arguing as to whether the judgement was correct or not. It also can’t really make it a “worse call”, although it does make it more controversial. I do think though that if he changed his call to make it the correct call, it was the right thing to do.

      • Hugh Cavill

        Intent, to me, is very relevant in this instance. The idea of ‘playing the ball’ is central to the law, and I’m not sure you can ‘play at the ball’ without knowing what you are doing, which I would argue Owens did not. It’s a classic 50/50, as I said in the article.

        • joy

          When the brain caught up with the hands he showed his intent. He immediately released the ball. This is clear enough and if the law says it doesn’t matter its crazy.

        • jamie

          Reckon you’re right Hugh. Besides, the ball was going to hit Owens regardless of whether he (rather instinctively, in my view) caught it or not. Reading the law about accidental offside certainly agrees with Poite.

        • Who?

          Hugh, when you’re running at the defensive line and the scrumhalf pops a short ball to you, do you catch it instinctively or do you have to think..? I’d argue that our goal in coaching catch/pass is to make ALL catch/pass instinctive. Because 99.9% of all catches are going to be catches we want our players to make, not catches that are from an offside position that might decide the outcome of a truly historic series.
          Instinct isn’t written into the law, only a requirement to play the ball, and attempting to catch (let alone actually catching) the ball is attempting to play it, whether it was conscious or instinctive.
          SO my belief is that Poite got it right, then somehow got convinced it wasn’t right, and we’re all – including, I’d imagine, Romain – just wishing he’d let play go a little longer before blowing that whistle and putting himself into the centre of what could only end as a controversy. I’m not certain ALB would’ve scored. The Lions defender let him go after the whistle started, he still had Farrell to beat (who didn’t really attempt to tackle him), anything could’ve happened. But we’ll never know.

  • AlanDownunder

    If Owens doesn’t catch it (and if he’s thinking he doesn’t) there is no possible argument.
    Because he does catch it there is no real argument.
    The better squad didn’t win the series, but at least Owens’ name won’t live in infamy.
    Poite’s name will, but all major refs’ names get to live in infamy.

  • MST

    The reality is Poite actions has placed himself in the indefensible position of being influenced by a player to change his decision which suggests an integrity issue.

    He made an initial decision that the challenge in the air was fair, and until the intervention of the Lions captain none of the officials had an issue with the call. The review confirmed his initial decision was correct and that his referral to the TMO was necessary and was a result of a player. A potential integrity issue.

    The TMO protocols are clear about the review of decisions and the offside incident is outside of those protocols. The TMO should have advised it was non-reviewable. Again an integrity issue.

    The call of accidental was removed as it was clear for all to see that the player made an effort to relinquish the possession of the ball using his arm and hands. This is not an accidental action thus the rule cant apply. The incorrect use of the TMO coincidentally (and ironically) clearly showed this reinforcing the fact that it was not accidental.

    There are multiple levels that the actions of the referee and refereeing teams can be questioned.

    I feel for Poite as the accidental offside law was highlighted as an issue as far back in 2011.

    With the issues FIFA and closer to home the NRL are having in regards to the alleged corruption in the game around match results this is a really poor look and questions the integrity of the laws, officials and potential outcomes of rugby games.

    I would be more accepting of the incorrect decision made within the law rather than a decision made through circumstance like this that raises significant questions.

    • Pedro

      can’t you review whenever there is a suspicion of “foul play”?

      6.A.7 B (v)
      “Reviewing situations where match officials believe foul play may have occurred.”

      “Foul play is anything a player does within the playing enclosure that is against the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game. It includes obstruction, unfair play, repeated infringements, dangerous play and misconduct which is prejudicial to the Game.” (http://laws.worldrugby.org/?law=10&language=EN)

      Foul play clearly includes deliberate offside as it against both “the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game”.

      Reviewing a deliberate offside isn’t that different from looking at a deliberate knock on or even a high tackle.

      I concede that the way it all was handled was not ideal, but I think it was the pressure and determination to make the right call that explain the unique set of decisions.

      • MST

        Yes, potentially he could have sough a review if he believed there was foul play. To do so he would have needed to have made a call (offside [accidental or deliberate]) and signalled and allowed advantage to be played. (I believe the Kiwi player was already on his way towards the line). At the conclusion of the play he could then have checked for foul play.

        The TMO would have looked at the Lions player to avoid committing the offence. The actions of the player showed he took no action to avoid committing the offence and potentially impeded the Kiwis access to the ball.

        Putting the elements together objectively requires consideration of the efforts of the Lions player to avoid the offence and then from the Kiwis side; does it prevent any opportunities.

        EG:11.7 Offside after a knock-on

        “When a player knocks-on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to sanction if playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.”

        If the review was around what the offence was or validating his call (in general play that is)I think we are off in very murky waters.

        The next question is can he change his decision and on what grounds?

        But going back to the actual situation the review was after he succumbed to player pressure to review the challenge in the air – nothing else. So the change of decision appears to base on “feelings” rather than the facts that he witnessed that caused him to blow the whistle when it happened – and that is indefensible.

        • Pedro

          Yeah but he has to stop play (and advantage) as soon as Owens touches it, like with a forward pass you don’t wait to see if the player is turned over. I agree how it all happened is murky, but if you ever wanted to be sure you were right this is it.

        • Who?

          I see it more like a knock on – especially as Owens released it so very quickly. That being the case, there’s a case to try advantage, seeing Owens was giving it…

  • Keith Butler

    Can’t say one way or the other but looks suspiciously like a pen to the ABs. As a Lions supporter I’m happy with the scrum and the draw. What I’m more interested in is seeing a full shot of Barret’s kick. Was Read in front of the kick, as many have suggested and therefore offside. Pen to Lions and Daly comes into play. Maybe a drawn game and series was a reasonable outcome. Wearing my England hat, EJ has some interesting decisions to make come the AIs. Threequarters looks promising but will Farrell be at 12. Impressed but T’eo this series.

    • Who?

      Seen the offside complaint for Read a couple of places, others are claiming that Daly would’ve then kicked the winning penalty. Thought I should clear something up. Offside at kick off isn’t a penalty, it’s a scrum at halfway. Law 13.3.

  • Glen Boevink

    Penalty

  • Miss Rugby

    Asking this as I legit have no idea, but why was there no advantage given? The AB’s player clearly gets the rebounding ball and breaks the line. If it was simply a knock on by Lions which accidentally went into his own player and the ABs player collected it, why not allow play to proceed then go back and check all the mitigating factors? If foul play, no try (assuming he scored as he was totally in the clear)

    • jamie

      My best guess is he’d sucked air in and the whistle was in his mouth as
      Owens dropped it. From there, he had a millisecond to react, and most
      humans can’t think that quickly.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Good point. You could argue this was Romain’s biggest mistake. The Kiwis would have had possession in the 22, so even if it was a penalty in the first instance advantage still should have applied.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        Unless he wanted to check if Reid tackled the player in the air or competed for the ball. Kaplan stated that Reid was never in a realistic position to catch the ball and it should be a penalty to the Lions. If so the whole offside issue is mute. The TMO reviewed it said no penalty which could’ve avoided the controversy. This will then end up with a scrum to the attacking side as was awarded. So many mistakes in so few seconds….

        • Colin Fenwick

          He initially awarded a penalty to NZ, so this seems very unlikely.

  • Johnno

    Being a “rugby union ref” is like being a lawyer. There’s often clear written rules, but it’s open to interoperation. As Rod Kafar said last night it’s not an exact science. Like a car crash or murder vs manslaughter often gets debated so does rugby union laws/rules/ Rugby union’s rules are complex/endless and messy. The french ref last night was damned if he did damned if he didn’t. It will be interesting if “World rugby” make a formal statement like they did with the Craig Joubert stuff vs Scotland in 2015 world cup vs Wallabies.

  • OlderIGet

    If the All Blacks needed to rely on a ref’s decision in the last two minutes of the third test to win the series, then they didn’t play well enough. The refs probably made a dozen or more bad decisions that favoured the Kiwis up till then.

    • John Bands

      Honestly, when will you people ever stop this bs about the Abs being favoured by the refs rhetoric? I watched the game with three English mates of mine and all of them thought the All Blacks were hard done by a lot more than the Lions. Did you even watch the game with both eyes open?

      Well, I will highlight a major decision that if it had been the other way around, we all know how bad the meltdown from the neutrals would have been. That was the Sexton tackle on Barrett which went unpunished. No review even though the ref saw it live and played advantage for it. Much worse than Kaino’s head high but he gets off and Kaino gets a yellow.

      If ever there was a series where the old “ABs were favoured” line was not even remotely accurate, this would be the one. And yet people can’t seem to let it go.

      • Westo

        I guess you now know how the losing wallaby fan always feels. It’s natural to blame an individual or a series of key 50:50 decisions that are most likely called correctly, but are not because it did not favour your team. The ABs did some great stuff but they also did some poor stuff too. The classic for me was not rolling away and the replacement halfback manufacturing the penalty. The ABs have been pests for years on the wrong side of the ruck. It’s hurts when u get pinged.

        • John Bands

          I’m not saying the Abs are saints but the fact that they are the most pebnalised team in world rugby would suggest that they are not getting favourable treatment from the refs. And yet that standard line is rolled out year after year. It’s gets bloody annoying.

          It’s interesting though how I find no “neutral” fan has commented about the Lions constantly pushing the offside line, their lying around rucks, their cynical closing of the gap during lineouts and worst of all their incessant shouting during the line out calls.

          Seems like most neutrals only observe what NZ does wrong and turn a blind eye to the indiscretions of the opposition.

        • idiot savant

          Well imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. You should be flattered.

        • jamie

          Or, they’re just not looking for it because they don’t have precedent for it.

        • John Bands

          A deaf person could have heard the Lions screaming at every line out…

        • first time long time

          They may be the most penalised but that’s because they give a penalty away whenever they can to stop a team scoring a try, a tactic that should lead to more yellow cards.
          We people will stop bleating about the ABs when you start sharing the Bledisloe cup again! And get over Wayne Barnes ; )

      • Jeff

        Of course the abs are favoured by refs look at Bismarck tackle on carter in 2013 where poite binned Bismarck for a legitimate tackle so don’t tell ua the refa don’t favour the abs.

        • John Bands

          So you are saying that referees are deliberately cheating. That’s a massive accusation and a disgraceful one. And don’t think that bringing up isolated incidents to justify your baseless stance makes you look smart, it has the opposite effect actually.

        • andrew

          Let’s at least stick to this series please. Why wasn’t the Lion’s number 1 not cited for attacking Barrett in the second test?

      • Canadian content

        You obviously didnt watch the 2011 rwc final

        • John Bands

          You obviously didn’t watch the 2007 Quarter Final against France.

        • first time long time

          Who can’t let it go????

        • John Bands

          Please, I am responding to one of you supposed “neutrals” who brought up an event from six ears ago to justify your bs position, so I just followed suit with a much more compelling match where the Abs were hard done by. And you seriously have a problem with me and not the original poster? Like I said, the neutrals can only see the indiscretions made by NZ. It’s really pretty pathetic and desperate.

        • first time long time

          Once you start commenting on “you people” you are probably going to get a few terse replies.
          Back on point, the ref is the sole interpreter of the laws.
          He didn’t miss the “indiscretion” he interpreted what he saw.
          I know you don’t agree but you gotta wear that one

        • John Bands

          So the AB fans have to wear it as the ref is the sole interpreter of the laws but when Speight’s try was called back at Eden Park last year the meltdown here was somehow totally justified. Oh the hypocrisy…

        • first time long time

          do you want to go back and forward all day?
          Imagine if you lost…… oh the humanity

        • John Bands

          No, you don’t get to take the moral high ground here. You don’t get to decide that one set of fans have to cop the decision but then impose another set of rules for your lot. Am just picking up on your obvious hypocrisy. It’s clear for all to see.

        • first time long time

          Good chat JB. Over and out

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        John. I am neutral and can state that the All Blacks tend to get more 50-50 calls go their way. I attribute it to unconscious bias by the referees and not cheating. The only address unconscious bias is to point it out. It is only All Black supporters that are arguing against it.

        • John Bands

          Well I would rather trust the stats which show that they are the most penalised team in world rugby than your claim of being a neutral and objective poster. Even if you honestly believe that, the stats prove you to be wrong.

          Another thing, using the non AB supporters as a measure of objectivity on how the ABs are reffed has got to be one of the funniest things I have ever read. The fact that I have not witnessed one supposed neutral observer comment on the cynical play from the Lions this series perfectly proves my point.

        • Roger Lovatt

          John please be good enough to provide those Stats you mention showing the AB’s are the most penalised team in world rugby. I mean it makes perfect sense they should be, but I would like to see the other teams on the list as a matter of interest.

        • John Bands

          It was a big talking point last year when it came out. Weren’t you around? A simple google search will give you the results.

        • Roger Lovatt

          Ah okay thought you might have it at your finger tips .. I’ll have a look see. Look forward to your take on my reply to you earlier.

        • John Bands
        • Roger Lovatt

          Cheers

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Who stated there were lies, damn lies and then statistics. Stats needs to be considerred in context and should be seen holistically. How many penalties a team give away tell you nothing about how many 50/50 calls are given in your favour of your team. Also not how many of these decision were critical to a win or loss. Stating NZ articles as proof is also no scientific study!

      • Roger Lovatt

        Just go to 01:10 & 07:52 min marks! Read’s clear neck roll on Warburton & Retallick’s clear shoulder barge on Farrell .. and, his body language as he gets up shows he’s worried over it .. regardless both offenses 100% Yellow cards!! Yet the Ref, his Two AR’s & TMO if he’s permitted to intervene .. evidently did not do their jobs by sighting them! Result AB’s awarded a penalty & scrum respectively! Just those two laughable decisions within the first 8 minutes had a huge impact on the match for the Lions! And that is indicative of how often the AB’s get away with murder so to speak!

      • Twoilms

        When they stop being favoured by the refs i should think.

    • Moana Edwards

      How about the second test the winner was decided in last 2 minute of the game by ref decision

    • moaning expat

      One of which was pulling up a pass and calling it forward. Seems it was a certain try to the lions.
      Suprised no one here has mentioned it. (Even marshall called it ok )

      • John Bands

        This proves my point. The call was a bad one like many that went against NZ , including the missed head high on Barret from Farell (certain yellow) or the incorrect head high by Retallick that never was and gave the Lions 3 points.

        You are really showing your incredible bias by claiming it would have been a certain try to the Lions when the player receiving the ball got tackled just a few metres further.

  • first time long time

    Agree with it or not, the decision was correct because the Ref is the sole interpreter of the laws.

    Anyhoo, why hasn’t the happiest man the world and now second most hated man in NZ ….. Wayne Barnes been mentioned.

    • I’m pretty sure Barnes is still the most hated man in NZ. I disagree with Poite’s decision but I can understand why he reached it. Barnes just absolutely fracking blew it badly with no excuses.

      • first time long time

        Yeah I’m pretty sure the “I hate Wayne Barnes” Facebook page has 4 million “friends” so I may have exaggerated Romain’s hate-O-meter in NZ

  • Adrian

    Dammed if he did, and dammed if he didn’t, but a good call in the context of everything

    • idiot savant

      Ah oui oui

    • John Bands

      Not a good call at all. Even if the reversal was correct which I firmly believe it wasn’t, the failure to play advantage was very poor officiating.

  • Harbo

    If you look at the laws it’s pretty black and white Poite made the correct decision (not sure I’ve ever said that before?). Interesting to hear what the kiwi fans on here think though!

    • There are plenty of comments from neutrals and even Lions supporters that disagree with you, let alone the Kiwi fans. As so many other people have commented, he brought his arms up to catch the ball, that’s a deliberate act, so it’s a penalty. If it had just hit, it was a scrum. That would be my take on it anyway.

      • Harbo

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I personally think talking about this call is making a mountain out of an ant hill. A call in the 78th minute holds as much weight as the first minute.

        Also, In any sport, if a ball comes flying at you or past your face, unintentionally what’s your first instinct?

        • I agree. I think he had a good match and while I think his first call of penalty was right, I think it’s debatable.

          Given where he caught it, “past your face” is a poor description, and I would have more sympathy if he’d raised his hands to protect his head, or moved them to protect himself, but he moved them to catch the ball, then realised “oh, shit, I’m offside” and dropped the ball.

          And no, calls the 78th minute clearly don’t have as much weight. If he’d awarded the penalty as he had at first, and Barrett had kicked it, win for the AB, series win for the AB is almost certain. If he changes his mind as he did, we get the draw. In the 2nd minute, there’s still 78 minutes to go and who knows what happen?

        • Harbo

          Onbviously everyone is entitled to the opinions however as a completely impartial viewer my thoughts are in line with Hugh’s.

          Respectfully have to disagree on that one. A penalty no matter when it occurs holds equal weight. If you take away an ABs penalty earlier in the match then farrel doesn’t get a shot at goal and the ABs win by 3. Or if you take away a lions penalty earlier then they ABs might not have scored one of their tries or moral changes or you get a warning from the the ref so you play tighter or panic. It’s too hypothetical. Also in the 78th minute as per your line of thinking there’s still 2 minutes to go and the ABs had possession so it was theirs to draw.

        • jamie

          A missed, or un-acquired penalty changes a game entirely. It’s not as simple as moving 3 points off the scoreboard.

        • Harbo

          I realise this but then if you are saying that you need to look at the whole game and dissect what penalties were missed.

          What I’m trying to say is everything that happens over the 80 minutes before the final whistle all shapes the game and final result. You can’t just talk about one penalty and ignore all others. It’s ridiculous to say one penalty means more than the others. They are all apart of the game. All of them (including those missed) contribute to the final score.

        • Harbo

          After all the hype has settled and I’ve re-watched it and digested it all, I think was wrong and the ABs were hard done by. However I can see why people argue each way. I should think before I speak!

        • There’s a truth there for everyone!

          I try to read the comments and then pause before replying to make sure I don’t troll anyone and I’m not too angry when I reply if someone writes what I think is nonsense, although I don’t always succeed. And I’m not trying to say you were talking nonsense, except maybe by declaring it was so black and white!

        • Harbo

          The black and white part was beyond nonsense. I’m a goose!

  • EngineRoom

    Can I add something to this kettle of fish. Was the ball knocked on? Seriously though. Go back and look at the video. I could’ve sworn that ball went back. Therefore no knock on, no offside, Lions ball because the ref called it early.

    I’m I being a genius or just an idiot?

    • Hugh Cavill

      I think it’s probably a knock-on, or at least 50/50. Which again leads me to the belief Poite made the right call. So many 50/50 scenarios in the one play…

      • first time long time

        Williams touches the ball in line with the “d” of standard, written on the field and then it hits Owens between the “a” and the “r”.
        It definitely looks forward because Williams is knocked back faster than the ball but I’m not so sure after a few more looks.
        Either way I’m with you, I agree with the decision, not so much how he got to it though.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        I do not think it was clear and obvious.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well i think that this one will be debated for a while.
    Here is BL’s points in a very particularl order:

    Intent ( or Mens rea the original root latin for intent or in the legal community known as guilty mind). For I think to clarify there is a fundamental difference between intent and instinct.

    If the ball had bounced offOwen’s chest, head or arms then you could have classified it as accidental. Once his hands have touched it then he effectively throws or pushes the ball to the ground and raises his arms, signifiying his guilt, it is with out a doubt a penalty. Owens has clearly demonstrated by his actions that he knew he was guilty.

    Being a referee Poite buckled under the pressure, in a want not to be viewed as the bad man he took the easy option. I am a supporter of neither side so dont really have a dog in this fight, but instinctually my gut reaction was it was a penalty.

    But hey that is my view, and the view of the Fijiian, the Samoan and the Englishman that were sitting there with me watching the game!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Being a totally biased AB fan I agree with you 100%

      • Brisneyland Local

        Thanks mate. Mind you I think the AB’s had a lot of chances to win it and threw them away literally. They were dropping balls like the Wallabies (actually I cant back that up, no one drops balls like we do!). But Jesus if Beaudan Barrett could kick you would have won the last two matches.

        • Greg

          This is actually the key point IMO.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I know. I think we’ve been lucky in the last few years not needing that and this series it bit us on the arse.

    • idiot savant

      I think it would be difficult to prove mens rea if you could not establish that the actus reas (guilty action) was consciously ante factum (before the fact). In this case I would argue that the dispelling of the ball was ipso facto ex post facto ( a consequence of an after the fact realisation). Owens was therefore not culpable – innoxious. Factum set accidente. It was an accident.

      • mikado

        Quod erat demonstrandum

      • Who?

        He played the ball. You can play the ball instinctively – that’s why we train kids to catch/pass instinctively (although you sometimes wonder how successful we’ve been when you watch Aussie teams!). The law doesn’t ask for intent, it clearly says, “plays the ball”. So, if one can play the ball instinctively – and clearly he did – then there is no requirement for intent. Only for action.

        • idiot savant

          Oh Who, you’re logic is admirable and deflating! Theres an old saying that one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

          And yet, I am not quite ready to rest. In my defence, your honour, I admit to not being au fait with the letter of the laws of the game but I would nevertheless be prepared to suggest that there is a prima facie case for arguing that deliberation is required ‘to play the ball’. In the absence of any definition of playing the ball before me I would hazard a guess that the purpose of playing the ball was to put the ball in play, presumably to your sides advantage, or to the opposition’s disadvantage. I see neither deliberation nor purpose in Owen’s action here.

        • Who?

          The law (11.7) simply says:
          “When a player knock-on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to sanction if playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.
          Sanction: Penalty Kick”
          So, catching the ball prevented the opponent from gaining an advantage. Primarily because Poite blew the whistle so quickly! But that’s where my logic goes…
          If he hadn’t wrapped that left arm around it, I’d be saying accidental offside, scrum.
          If Poite hadn’t blown his whistle and had let advantage accrue, no one would be talking about this now. The major problem with this isn’t that we’ve got a question of law – I actually find that quite enjoyable. The problem is that Romain’s instinct was to blow his whistle and award the penalty that his refereeing instincts said had been earned. And that’s long been marked as one of the key differences between NH and SH refs – that NH refs tend to be more whistle-happy.

        • idiot savant

          Liable is not the same as guilty. It simply means you have to answer the charge. Again I would argue that Owens may not have ‘played the ball’ (some deliberation and purpose being required). However this may or may not be relevant. As liability does not ipso facto constitute guilt, the referee, I assume, has the discretion to decide if the sanction should be applied.

        • Who?

          Liability isn’t about guilt, as you say, however the next phrase is key:
          If playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.

          Hence why I pointed out that the issue was that Poite blew the whistle too soon. If he hadn’t have blown it, the opponent would’ve been able to gain an advantage.

          Because Owens grabbed the ball, which caused Poite to blow the whistle, the opponent wasn’t able to gain an advantage, and as he played the ball, Owens is therefore liable for the penalty.

          Liability isn’t a statement of guilt, but it’s a statement of who is required to pay for an indiscretion or a loss. So we don’t need guilt, we just need someone to pay the cost. That person – due, arguably, to Poite’s guilt (as he is the one who prevented an advantage being gained) – is Owens.

          It all comes down to Poite blowing it up. No whistle, we can still have this debate as to whether it’s accidental or (as I contend) just plain offside, but without people hyperventilating about it deciding a series (even though something as simple as Beaudy converting the second try would’ve had the same impact, with no other impact on the game).

        • idiot savant

          We are wandering into Donald Rumsfeld territory here. Notwithstanding that I remain to be convinced that Owens ‘played the ball’, the wording of 11.7 you provided indicates to me that the referee has the discretion to determine liability, regardless of when he blows the whistle. He made his determination.

        • Who?

          But isn’t that fun? :-)
          The problem is that Poite’s intervention – which, off his original statements, was to rule offside/penalty. But if he hadn’t whistled, there was actually no penalty. The penalty was created by the whistle.
          The referee must decide whether or not an advantage was prevented to the opposition due to the playing of the ball. Playing the ball created the whistle, so therefore playing the ball denied advantage.
          The question, then, is whether it was accidental offside or just offside, and I’ve already explained my logic that it’s not accidental as Owens instinctively played the ball (whether we ever agree on that, that’s fine, think we’ve both made our cases and opinion’s great when impersonally argued) the result is a penalty. If it’s not a penalty (i.e. if Poite’s initial reaction is that he’s not played at the ball), then the scrum is the correct call.
          If Poite had come out and said, “I have decided that Red 16 did not play at the ball,” then at least there’d have been clarity on the field. But he didn’t even manage to do that… He said, “We have a deal.” I have no idea who he needed to accommodate with a deal – he’s on the field, he’s made his call, no one has the right to question it on the field. Though those of us who enjoy it always reserve the right to analyse it to the very death!!! :-D

        • Who?

          You know, just thinking about it, I quite like the way this law is written. It basically says, “You can be offside, provided you don’t prevent the opposition from getting an advantage.” I think the laws should be interpreted this way more often. A perfect example would be the ruck. “You can enter from the wrong side, as long as you’re not helping your team mates to counter ruck and are in fact helping to secure (quick) ball for the opponents.” Or, “You can play the ball on the ground in a ruck only if in doing so you make it easier for the opposition to clear the ball (but don’t eject the ball from the ruck).” That would be logical. It might actually assist the game – imagine, a tackler can’t roll out of the way, so to avoid being penalized he pushes the ball back to where it’s accessible the halfback. This is a gentlemanly and fair way to play the game. But with current wording (and regular fussy interpretation from some referees – not naming names here!), the player assisting the halfback could be doubly penalized – once for not rolling, and then for handling the ball.
          I know, I’m looking at a time in the past when people played fairly, maybe I’m wearing rose coloured glasses! But I do like the leeway given in the wording where an advantage needs to be prevented before a penalty is to be paid. It actually works with the concept of game management, where offences should only be punished if they have material impact.

        • idiot savant

          I admire your idealism and it would lead to more attractive football to watch. I can’t ever see any kiwi doing it though….

        • Who?

          I know… I can’t even see it happening at club level! But I like the wording, that it allows for NOT enforcing the law if no material impact is found to have been made.

      • Brisneyland Local

        More Latin there than I learny in Uni and High School combined. Will give it to you based on Latin usage alone!

      • OldFruit

        if you could not establish that the actus reas (guilty action) was consciously ante factum (before the fact)

        Is that not simply established by the fact that Owens knew ante factum that he was in an offside position, ergo he knows that playing the ball (e.g. catching) from such a position would be liable to sanction.

        • idiot savant

          But if he had a priori knowledge he wouldn’t have caught the ball. Catching the ball and then dispelling it, I would argue, constitutes a posteriori knowledge.

          He would be extremely unlikely to catch the ball if he knew he was offside. In the commissioning of the potential offence he was innocent as he had no mens rea (guilty knowledge) of this fact at the time. Upon the realisation and after the commissioning of the potential offence – ex post facto – he dispelled the ball.

  • Michael Hassall

    Good writeup Hugh, who would be a ref?

    I reckon that by the time Owens caught the ball he might actually be behind the place where Williams touched it because he was running backwards. I am using the writing on the ground as a reference and Williams was about the d in standard life, and Owens was about the r (closer to his tryline) when he caught it.

    Would that put him onside?

  • John Bands

    So the ball comes off the Lions and Leonard Brown then scoops it up and could have potentially scored a try if advantage is played like it should have been. At the very least, they would have had fantastic field position to attack the line against a disjointed defence.

    The ref instead blows the whistle immediately, negates the advantage, awards the penalty to NZ and then changes his mind and awards the scrum to NZ fifteen meters back from where Leonard Brown was.

    So no matter which view you take, the All Blacks were hard done by on that play. Even if for arguments sake Poite had made the right call on the accidental offside, he still didn’t ref the entire phase of play correctly by not playing the advantage.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Fair point.

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      No unless the ref wanted to check the challenge in the air. Kaplan believe it was illegal and should have been a penalty for the BL

      • Who?

        I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with much Kaplan said… Certainly didn’t agree with much he did on the field. Neither did many Tah fans, or Wallaby fans in general… Having a heap of appearances doesn’t make you good at your job. It just means that your boss liked you.
        We had Poite, Ayoub, Peyper and Garces all scrutinize the challenge in the air (very clearly), they all came to a different conclusion to Kaplan, first time, and without changing their minds. We see that sort of challenge – where a jumper attempts to bat the ball back – all the time. We even saw a try off it in that game.
        We also see lifters standing as blockers (making it harder for challengers to get to the ball, making any impact more horizontal than it otherwise might be, given they have to jump over the lifter to contest), and fake catchers as blockers (Te’o). We could find a penalty against every other player in every other circumstance if we really wanted. But do we really want that..?

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Law 10.4 (i) applies here. It was a fair contest for the ball however Reid timing was poor and he was never in a realistic position to catch the ball. The correct decision should have been a PK for red. I hope the IRR will clarify the decision as 3/4 were wrong!

        • Who?

          10.4 (i)
          TACKLING THE JUMPER IN THE AIR.
          A player must not tackle nor tap, push or pull the foot or feet of an opponent jumping for the ball in a lineout or in open play.
          So, let’s discard the bits we don’t need. First off, not a lineout. Secondly, Read was nowhere near Williams’ feet. Next, no tackle (no arms wrapping, but also no braced shoulder looking to create contact, either, so it wasn’t a tackle without arms).
          So, we’re left with ‘tap’, ‘push’ ‘an opponent jumping for the ball’ and ‘in open play’. It’s arguable whether ‘Push’ should be in that list – it can be read as Tackle – Tap – Push – pull the foot/feet, or it can be read as Tackle – Tap – Push/Pull the foot/feet. This is due to the use of ‘nor’ between Tackle and Tap, and ‘or’ between Push and Pull.
          But let’s leave it broad, and say it’s ‘push’ separate from ‘pull the feet/foot’.
          The law doesn’t specify that Read must catch the ball – or even be a chance of catching the ball – to be in the contest. It doesn’t say he has to attempt to catch the ball – many lineout jumpers don’t attempt to catch the ball, they bat it back to the halfback. Rugby has long had laws (especially around touch) that show an understanding that batting the ball is a part of the game, it’s not a new thing. So the fact that Read couldn’t catch the ball isn’t relevant, but the fact that his hand wasn’t far off knocking the ball back is.
          So, the question is, “Did Kieran Read ‘Tap’ or ‘Push’ an opponent jumping for the ball in open play?” The question, according to the law, is not “Did Kieran Read collide with a jumper?” It’s did he tap him or push him. Read’s hand was attempting to pull the ball back. It wasn’t pushing forward. There was no hand/arm pushing or tapping. Even the legs, they weren’t unusually raised.
          This means it’s a question of whether bodily contact created by forward momentum is considered to be tapping or pushing under the law. That’s always been a grey area. An area where we ebb and flow between open season in the air and the banning of jumping for the ball, because it can be too hard to actually have a genuine contest without finding a penalty.
          Forward momentum contesting the ball generally hasn’t traditionally been a cause for a penalty – not until early this season. But, typically, just as the high tackle and intercept deliberate knock on rulings have been walked back steadily, this has also been walked back from the days when jumping anywhere near a Crusaders player (even if that Crusaders player injured you) was an automatic penalty. I don’t want to see that sort of insanity – sure, it’s dangerous in the air, but Rugby is about the contest, and if you can’t jump to contest a high ball, then we should ban all kicking in the air. Because we mustn’t have an area of the game that is designed purely to create penalties.
          If you wanted to be pedantic and find the first penalty, the first penalty would arguably be against Te’o for walking backwards to impede Read’s run to the ball, which increased the contact in the air.
          And I wouldn’t ever take any ruling from Kaplan with anything less than a half tonne of salt…

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Good attempt, however I would still follow the advise of the most capped test referee Kaplan. Also have a look at the Law application guidelines for Law 10.4 for challenging players in the air.
          http://laws.worldrugby.org/?highlight=10.4(i)&domain=9&guideline=8

        • Who?

          You’d follow the advice of a retired capped test ref, but ignore the three on the field, plus the TMO..?
          If you watch the clip in the law application guidelines, you’ll note that the positioning of DHP relative to the ball isn’t that dissimilar to Read. He got up, there’s conjecture elsewhere that he may even have gotten a hand to the ball. If he got a hand to the ball, then he’s certainly in a fair contest.
          Further, Read’s charge for the ball is absolutely no more reckless than Dan Biggar’s charge for the ball against Finn Russell in the 2015 6N’s, which resulted in Russell getting a card for being under the ball (i.e. in a position to take it, but lower). So the recklessness of the charge at the ball and its impact on other players is irrelevant provided they get close to the ball.

      • OldFruit

        “Kaplan believed” lol

        3 out of 4 the officials on the night believed it was fine, lets go with that.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Mate, as you say it is about intent. In my biased view it was absolutely intent and should have been a penalty. Poite completely stuffed it up. A shame because I agree he had a very good game and while I think his interpretation was different to mine in some areas, minor shit and apart from that one decision, nothing really wrong. Could have been a lot worse.

    I don’t really mind about the decision that much as no game is actually won or lost on those decisions. The AB’s didn’t win because they left points on the field. Not just the missed kicks but also the mistakes they made during the game.
    I absolutely loved the game, it was a huge match with so much skill and high pressure decisions and hits that it was a joy to watch. I wished we’d won but really just glad we didn’t lose.

    • joy

      I was very impressed by the game too. Kiwis probably deserved to win but the Lions defence was certainly something to talk about. The draw may be deflating for Kiwis but a loss would have been disastrous. The entire population would have been tempted to dive into that volcano the haka opened up. Pleased to see you’re still with us.

      • Greg

        I thought the blacks made a lot of unforced errors compared to their usual standard. This was the warning sign.

    • jamie

      I disagree. The ball was going to hit Red #16 regardless. It’s instinctive to catch a ball coming to you, and in that split second “am I offside” isn’t in your mind. Accidental, unintentional. Scrum.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Cool, we can disagree. Nothing in the law says if it’s instinctive it’s ok.

        • idiot savant

          Nothing in the law says if its instinctive its not ok.

        • jamie

          No, but it means it’s not deliberate, and (as far as I’m concerned and have experienced), playing the ball requires intent. Accidental.

        • Who?

          Playing the ball doesn’t require intent, it requires action. You don’t play the ball by letting it hit you, but you do play the ball by catching it. Much of Rugby is instinctive and subconscious, that’s why we drill catch and pass skills – so they become instinctive. So, in taking action – instinctive action – Owens played the ball.

        • jamie

          Accidentally catching a ball that practically bounced off his shoulder into the bread basket is a little bit different from catch and pass drills.

        • Who?

          Actually… It’s not. It’s the result of catch and pass drills. You want your players to catch anything that comes their way – it’s much more likely that they’ll receive an unexpected pass in an onside position than be in a position to accidentally lose a test series by being offside.
          The fact is, he caught the ball, whether it was instinctive or deliberate, catching the ball is the definition of playing the ball, and therefore the correct – technically correct – ruling was Romain’s equally instinctive (but prematurely whistled) one. There is no question of requiring intent.
          It’s the same as the week before – the technically correct ruling was the penalty against the ABs on the jumping Lion. The fact that it might feel wrong isn’t relevant.

      • Chris Jagusch

        why did not the ref play the advantage law. Lienert Brown was headed under the sticks.

        • jamie

          That I can’t understand. Perhaps he thought ALB knocked it on in the pickup, perhaps he thought there was no advantage, as it looked like the whistle blew pretty much as Owens dropped it, meaning he would’ve not had time to react to the ball being dropped and ALB’s scoop.

          My best guess is he’d sucked air in and the whistle was in his mouth as Owens dropped it. From there, he had a millisecond to react, and most humans can’t think that quickly.

        • Bakkies

          He went to check if it was a fair challenge on Williams

        • Colin Fenwick

          No. He blew his whistle and immediately awarded a penalty to NZ.

      • OldFruit

        Do you think Owens knew he was in a potential offside position as he turned to face Williams in the air?

  • skip

    Leaving aside the actual decision, and with the greatest respect to the All Blacks and what they’ve achieved in a decade of sustained excellence, there has been something i’ve noticed in the last 2 tests from aspects of their media that I find unedifying.

    I noticed it cos i’ve lived for short periods in a few kinds of dictatorships (European and Asian) over the years and their press used very similar tactics when faced with a world event they had to react to and then spin in a certain way to stop people questioning the received wisdom too awkwardly. It was odd to see a reflection of it here.

    When Williams was red carded there were a large number of articles that just ran with “well, what about this (insert incident of choice)” to describe how the reader had every right to feel aggrieved that NZ lost a player and the Lions should have lost one, possibly two as well. There were articles with titles like “What kind of game did the ref have in test 2?”, a neutral title but actually consisted entirely of lists of things he apparently missed that disadvantaged NZ – all designed to make the reader feel indignant and the victim of a conspiracy, none or just a token one the way for “balance”. It’s called “whataboutsim”, in the trade.

    The comments to those were also really unedifying. Anyone who dared question the received wisdom illustrated above was subject to pretty vicious commentary in reply. Thou shalt not question the cult of personality that requires allegiance to the All Black brand.

    We’re seeing it repeated to a degree here. It’s not that NZ didn’t play as well as they can and dropped passes, failed to convert pressure, missed kickable shots, it’s actually that the ref made a clanger that robbed them of the series. It certainly can’t explain why a relatively settled side didn’t complete the expected whitewash over a side thrown together over 8 weeks and in fact became the first All Black side to fail to win a Lions series since 1971.

    I know all this needs to be taken with of a pinch of salt. Kiwi rugby fans are on the whole great and really understand the game and are great to talk to. As disagreeable as Hanson is in his use of the press, he’s a fine coach who lost 400-odd caps and made it look easy to fill those in so I know this isn’t a reflection of the entire picture and there’s been a great deal of measured discussion on the topic in the NZ media.

    That said, we live in an age of click bait and “fake news” so it was interesting to me to see tactics (clearly not consciously thought of and certainly not directed) that i’ve seen elsewhere crop up here. Furthermore, i noted it as we wouldn’t have such a discussion on a league forum.

    • idiot savant

      You’ve been reading the NZ Herald again. That beacon of unbiased opinion.

      • skip

        No. But it sounds like Pravda. What these places also is provide someone to say the enemy’s view and allow the mob to bay and shout at them.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      All commercial news outlets provide stories created by selecting facts so that they can sell part of the audience’s attention to advertisers. The audience is the product, and advertisers are the consumers. The stories are truly stories. They are not in the business of providing a complete or balanced understanding of anything to anyone.

      They have always worked this way. Due to the shorter news cycle and increased competition for people’s attention, they spend less time on articles these days and it is now more obvious what they are doing.

      As you point out, the techniques of fact selection are similar in many cases to propaganda outlets. You’ll see it everywhere when you look for it. It’s not particularly a NZ or All Blacks thing.

      • skip

        Sure. Didn’t say it was. :)

  • idiot savant

    Au contraire mes amis! Felicitations Romain vous avez fait de notre jeu en excellent service.

    Im glad the French love this great game of ours. What a spectacular way to end a spectacular series. Thank you Hugh for putting the contrary position. Tres Francais!

    It was a decision made out of an ‘amour authentique’ for the game. And all that sour piss dribbling out of les bouches de Nouvelle-Zelande shows no passion just an empty desire to win. Merci Romain for realising the game is bigger than that.

    • Who?

      Of course, I’ve seen Rainbow Warrior references… Why does World Rugby not realize that Kiwis don’t trust the French in any capacity?

      • idiot savant

        Thats true, but when you consider the French hate the English almost as much as they hate the Germans (and probably a whole lot more than the kiwis), Romain’s decision is tres mysterieux!

        • Who?

          But they were wearing Welsh Red, with lots of Welshmen, a Welsh captain (and de facto Welsh coach), and lots of Irish people out there, so it wasn’t as clear cut as it might’ve been. If there’d been Scots on the field, then you’re talking about a 700 year alliance.
          And whilst Barnes reffing Argentina can cause ructions, the Rainbow Warrior was 4 years more recent than the Falklands…

        • idiot savant

          Ah yes but the Lions have collaborators in their midst! They’ve let the Anglais in! An offence punishable by penalty surely!

        • Who?

          Maybe. But that’s not the way an aggrieved mind works. ;-)
          No, I’m no Kiwi! I should be barracking for the Lions, by nationality…

  • Missing Link

    Another year, another ref pressured into retirement because something didn’t go someone’s way. I hope Poite sticks around like Wayne Barnes has. Everyone has a bad day, shouldn’t be the end of his career.

    • John Bands

      Absolutely. He was pretty decent for most of the match apart from this incident and failing to review the head high from Sexton on Barrett which would have led to a yellow. He bottled the last call big time but he never gave me the impression that he was trying to favour the Lions over NZ or vice versa. Wayne Barnes however seemed like he was doing everything in his power to help France win the QF.

  • Tommy Brady

    Your review of events Hugh is inaccurate and misses one important piece of evidence.

    As you correctly pointed out, Poite awarded a penalty for offside. After reviewing video evidence with his match officials, Poite reconfirmed his original decision the ball had been knocked forward into the arms of No. 16 Red who was in an offside position and he was going back to the mark for a penalty. TMO Ayoub agreed with Poite on the decision.

    Audio then picks up Poite say “Oui Jerome” which was obviously a message in his ear from French AR Jerome Garces.After that one-way conversation, Poite changed his original decision of penalty to scrum.

    World Rugby protocol states that after reaching a concluding decision, an AR has no authority to change the decision of the match referee in such a matter! Garces should have known that. Poite should have known that. Poite got it wrong. The All Blacks were wrongfully denied a penalty and an opportunity to kick for goal.

    In keeping with the current approach taken by modern referees Poite should have said to Warburton “Your player made a play for the ball in an offside position. The laws say I have no alternative but to penalise him”. Poite should have shifted all responsibility from himself to the rules book.

  • JP

    Polite made a mistake in blowing it up as there was an advantage available to #13 New Zealand. Further this means that #16 red didn’t stop New Zealand from having an advantage, so law 11.7 doesn’t apply. As such you can’t apply the accidental offside version in 11.6 either as BIL gained no advantage from #16’s contact with the ball given that it landed in the hands of #13 black. Awarding a scrum to New Zealand was a fair outcome for Poite accidentally blowing up play. Not sure what law applies though!

  • Paul Ridoutt

    Did Kieran Read knock it on?

  • first time long time

    Let’s face it that hack Barrett would have missed the kick anyway.
    He should be on his knees thanking Poite for saving him the embarrassment ; p

  • Macca44

    Different angle but why was the leinert-brown who scooped up the ball and ran off with it called back – either way should have been advantage to the abs and play should have been allowed to continue….

  • first time long time

    The commentators were asking would he review the decision if it happened in the first couple of minutes but the converse is true that if he did and the exact same situation played out from the first kick off no one would be talking about it which leads me to believe the complaint is more about the result not the decision.

    • jamie

      My best guess is he’d sucked air in and the whistle was in his mouth as
      Owens dropped it. From there, he had a millisecond to react, and most
      humans can’t think that quickly.

      It’s always easier from the sidelines..

      • first time long time

        I agree re the advantage he blew that whistle very quickly, before Lienert-Brown scooped up the ball. Everyone else had stopped so its always going to look like a try was on.

  • onlinesideline

    didnt world rugby or head of refs come out after the Wallabies v Scotland decision and say that Joubert got it wrong and it should NOT have been a penalty, despite the Scottish player instinctively catching the ball. Same here no ? Just coz Lions guy caught ball for a second doesnt mean it wasnt accidental it seems. So what didnt ref get wrong ?

    • Tommy Brady

      World Rugby in their statement claimed Craig Joubert got the 2015 Scotland decision wrong only because “it is clear that after the knock-on, the ball was touched by Australia’s Nick Phipps and Law 11.3(c) states that a player can be put on-side by an opponent who intentionally plays the ball”.

      Worth noting too on that occasion World Rugby also claimed….

      “It is important to clarify that, under the protocols, the referee could not refer to the television match official in this case and therefore had to rely on what he saw in real time. In this case Law 11.3(c) should have been applied, putting Welsh onside. The appropriate decision, therefore, should have been a scrum to Australia for the original knock-on”.

      • onlinesideline

        well when u put it like that – good points mate

      • joy

        “Welsh”?

  • Nutta

    Good article Hugh and for what it’s worth I agree with your assessment 100%

    Whether the Irishman caught the ball or not is not relevant as the law makes no distinction. Even if he put his hands in his pockets that ball was still hitting him. Thus 11.6a is the correct law to apply.

    I think it was Wayne Bennett who once observed “If you win on the basis of a single, tight Referee decision then you can’t really claim victory. You didn’t beat your opponent. You just got lucky.” This is one of those cases. And given the amount of shots the AIB created and then blew in the opening 10-15min this is a particularly relevant observation.

    Great game. Great series. Move on.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      By the letter of the two laws, both of them apply. The ball contacts the Lions player accidentally but he then has control and lets it drop, which is playing the ball. I guess in this case the ref gets to choose which to apply.

      I think the ref was quick to blow the whistle, and should have played advantage. But once the whistle had gone, I think the fair thing was to go with the accidental because the Lions player didn’t play the ball in any normal rugby way that would advantage his team.He was playing the ball in a way to try to undo the fact that it landed in his arm.

      • Nutta

        Valid point. Once he blew the whistle it changed everything – “What’s done is done and cannot be undone.”

  • dane

    The only issue is Poite should have played advantage. Jody Barratt cleaned up the scraps and was in the process of breaking a tackle as the whistle went. He probably would have scored under the posts!

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Agree advantage should have been played, but it’s hard to say ABs would have scored. The whistle went during Jordy’s first tackle break and it’s hard to tell if the Lions player let go hearing the whistle. All players stopped before the 2nd tackle which wasn’t begun properly.

  • Hoss

    Gospel according to Hoss.

    1. Too simplistic to say one decision cost the AB’s the series, even though it was a howler, but i have watched the game twice and the BIL’s copped there share of crappy decisions – said last week and i will say it again, the ref was consistently inconsistent
    2. Hansen showed real class, as to Read – it must have been crushing the turmoil over the decision / non-decision, but they showed great dignity in trying circumstance – good measure of the men and i had my doubts about Read, but he manned up.
    3. The AB’s were architects of their own demise with plenty of dropped pill and will rue that more than the decision
    4. The frog ref’s have form, why were they ever picked – are they truly in the World top 3 refs ? Gus Gardner must be there-about’s surely ?
    5. Call me cynical but its Karma that the tying penalty goes against Crocket – for me the equal biggest scrum cheat in Rugby (along with Dan Coles) – never packs square – never, always ‘shears’ across scrums. I understand it was a general play infringement, but it made my day it was against him.
    6. Interesting insight into a Kiwi’s – for years we (Wallabies fans) have been sore losers and for us to mention ref’s (fuck you Nigel Owens) we get panned – shoe now on other foot and the squealing per capita is about the same……….
    7. And lastly a big FUCK YOU to Foxtel – sat through a pulsating game (and series) saw the Read interview and was waiting for the Warburton, Hansen, Gatland and co to dissect the game and get their insights and emotions only to cut to a meaningless bullshit clash of the two shit Super Rugby teams (i follow the Tah’s) – you couldn’t delay the overage of the Tah’s game by 20 minutes to finish off the Lions Series story ?? Dickheads.

    Summary – great series, will be talked of until i am dead and gone – great for the game. Played in great spirit, great pace, great physicality, unbelievable fans – had it all and it was a privilege to have witnessed it.

  • Pearcewreck

    Seems to me there are too many “kiwis” on this site.
    I”ll just leave this here (from About Tab on GAGR Home page),

    About Green and Gold Rugby

    GreenandGoldRugby.com (G&GR) is the home on
    the web for passionate followers of Australian rugby. We are
    unashamedly focused on two elements of that statement: Australian and
    Rugby. You’ll find no other sport or country’s interest our site.

  • Pearcewreck

    Am I the only one who thought Read should have been yellow carded?
    He never intended to catch that, he was only looking to hit the BIL catcher in the air.
    Personally, I think he should have seen yellow.

    • HK Red

      Made contact with the head and likely offside from the kick-off.

    • Who?

      We see many contests like that, where the goal of the jumper isn’t to catch the ball, but to bat it back to their own team.
      There’s a penalty available in everything if you want it. They could’ve argued the first infringement (ignoring questions about Read being onside at the kick off) was Ben Te’o backing into Read’s path. I wouldn’t blow it (his eyes were upward, as were Read’s), but, like I say, you can find a penalty anywhere you want…

  • Wolfman

    If you want to be really picky, have another look at the replay and to me Read is about half a metre in front of the kicker which helped him contest the ball. I know it happens pretty much every kickoff but it annoys we that it is one of those areas that Refs and linesman seem to turn a blind eye to now.

    • OldFruit

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but Read was fine. https://twitter.com/thedeadballarea/status/883812394753044481

      • Wolfman

        so only the trailing leg needs to be behind the ball and his front leg and rest of his body can be in front?
        Anyway like I said that would be a penalty pretty much every kick off if they were pedantic

        • OldFruit

          Yeah I agree with you on that, but i do find it bizarre that for every decision that gets questioned, people somehow find other ones to shift the focus too. There are indiscretions everywhere you look on a rugby field, better to stick with the clear and obvious ones.

  • Simon

    Don’t worry – you’ve got three tests against us next month which should spare your tears. ;)

  • Danny McGowan

    Let’s get this clear, I think the game probably ended up with a reasonably fair result, and I have absolutely no problems with Poite, and haven’t been through whole game to see what happens in every decision, so I not going to moan about this one. I am only pointing out that you are incorrect Hugh, like it or lump it the main wrong decision Poite made was to blow his whistle , as he should of played advantage, Anton Leniert-Brown had picked up the ball and had almost gone through Liam William when Poite blew the whistle, he also had a couple of All Blacks in support, it happened right in front of where I was sitting. But as I say not saying that was the reason for the draw etc, just pointing out where I think this article was incorrect.

  • andrew

    Scotland was robbed in that quarter final though!

  • Baylion

    You ignored Law 11.7

    11.7 Offside after a knock-on
    When a player knocks-on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to sanction if playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.
    Sanction: Penalty kick

    Law 11.7 don’t make provision for accidental offside but does require that the infringement prevented the opponent from gaining an advantage.

    There are only two reasons why Poite decided to change his mind after he and the TMO made a decision. Either Garces, in their private conversation, convinced Poite that there wasn’t a knock-on (ball off the shoulder) or that the ABs weren’t prevented from gaining an advantage.

    From his discussion regarding accidental offside it seems he went with the first – no knock-on even though he and the TMO agreed there was a knock-on – since he, not the Lions player, prevented the ABs from gaining an advantage by blowing his whistle too soon – his big mistake was not to play advantage and thereby prevented a possible try by the ABs.

    • Who?

      I’ve said similar things below. The key thing is that, if Poite hadn’t blown his whistle, regardless of your personal take, the ABs would’ve had advantage. But key to the interpretation of 11.7, if Poite blows his whistle, the ABs don’t get advantage. Which means Poite is the one who changed it from a knock on to a penalty for offside! Because if the ABs get their advantage, regardless of whether or not it’s well used, it’s not a penalty for offside. If it’s not well used, then the infringement to be punished arguably isn’t the offside, it’s the knock on…

  • Roger Lovatt

    John Bands why can I not see your response to me or indeed your concession re Yellow Card for Retallick’s shoulder barge on Farrell 01;10 minutes in to the match on here?

  • MattyP

    Hugh. I’m late to this, I know, but one thing that seems to me that you and all the other commenters have missed is the IRB actual defines what is mean by playing the ball. If you look in the IRB definitions section it says: “Played: The ball is played when it is touched by a player.” A lot of comment alluding to this (“doesn’t require intent”etc) but this is the root of that argument. The hooker caught the ball, then dropped it. He played it. He was offside. 11.6 only excuses a player that cannot avoid being hit by the ball and thereby interfering with play. Once 16 red touches it with his hands, he’s offside.

All Blacks

A pretty average writer and an even worse player. Subbies struggler, supporter of the 2014 Super Rugby Champions.

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