All Blacks blame World Cup referee

The All Blacks coaches have blamed English referee Wayne Barnes for their World Cup failure, it was reported on Thursday as the New Zealand Rugby Union deliberated on the future of the coaching panel.

Head coach Graham Henry and his assistants Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have publicly maintained a diplomatic silence about Barnes’ performance in the World Cup quarterfinal in which hot favourites New Zealand lost to France 18-20.

But in a review of the performance, held behind closed doors at the rugby union headquarters, the coaches produced video evidence documenting Barnes’ errors, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The inexperienced English official failed to award a single penalty against France in the second half.

However, the video highlighted 17 second-half errors by Barnes and his touch judges, which all related to French indiscretions that were missed by the officials, the paper said.

Barnes also sin-binned inside centre Luke McAlister in the first half, leading to the first French try, and then failed to rule on a clear forward pass for France’s second.

A source said that was the central plank of the coaches’ case as they campaigned to keep their jobs.

The All Blacks failure to attempt a potentially match-winning drop goal in the closing stages of the match was said to have been explained away as the All Blacks instead played for a penalty that never came.

Having heard the coaches’ case, the rugby union review committee will present its findings to the full New Zealand Rugby Union board on Friday which will probably decide the fate of the coaches. – Sapa-AFP

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