The reset season following the World Cup in Japan was supposed to be the one that brought Australian rugby competitively closer to our Kiwi rivals.
The All Blacks have filed an official complaint over what they believe was an eye-gouge on prop Tony Woodcock but are irked it may detract from their best Test rugby performance of the year.
As they flew to London for next weekend’s tour finale against the Barbarians, after a big night of celebrations following their 39-12 win over France, the citing commissioner’s report was being awaited.
All Blacks support staff witnessed Woodcock receive “a facial” from a French player near the sideline as a melee broke out in the 71st minute at Stade Velodrome.
They exercised their right to lodge a complaint with the match citing commissioner within 12 hours of the final whistle, who in turn has 48 hours to officially cite a player.
“There’s no doubt Tony got a facial, that’s how he described it. We asked the citing commissioner to have a look at it and we’ll leave it in his hands,” All Blacks assistant Steve Hansen said.
“We’re not going to moan about it. There’s a process and he’ll have a look at it and if there’s nothing to answer, then we’ll just get on with it.”
Woodcock emerged with abrasions around both eyes but Hansen said his vision wasn’t affected. Their complaint was hampered by the fact there was no clear video footage of the incident.
“We had a look for it (footage) and we couldn’t find anything, so as far as we’re concerned it’s over,” Hansen said. “Most things that happen on the field should stay there.”
The All Blacks celebrated with the Dave Gallaher Trophy back in their possession after a scintillating five-tries-to-none victory in a welcome return to open, running rugby.
While the performance set down a marker for the All Blacks heading into next season, when Wales and Ireland loom in the June Tests, Hansen doubted they had sent a global message about running rugby.
“South Africa might argue that point, they beat us three-zip,” he said.
“For us, it’s about playing to our strengths and taking advantage of how the opposition are going to play against us. If we can improve our aerial game and improve our reloading and getting back and taking opportunities that arise, then teams may stop kicking to us.”