It’s too easy for Kiwis to dismiss the latest Bledisloe refereeing controversy as just another example of Wallaby whinging.
There’s no doubt the All Blacks are the best rugby side in the world by some distance. Yet the chasing pack are entitled to a fair go from referees – and they aren’t getting it.
Australia themselves have had some recent experience of benefitting from bad decisions. No more so than the infamous call that went their way in the Rugby World Cup quarter final against Scotland.
All the wash-up from Bledisloe Cup 3:
» LORD: Nick Phipps shines
» Eight talking points
» What changes should the Wallabies make?
» DIY player ratings
» Read the match report
» Re-live the action with our live blog
» Watch the highlights
Yet bad decisions seem to even themselves out for all teams except the All Blacks. Right now, to beat them you need to hope that the men in black have a bad day and the referee has a good day.
To find a bad decision that has arguably cost the All Blacks a game, you need to go as far back as Wayne Barnes’ diabolical and infamous forward pass miss in the game against France in Rugby World Cup 2007.
It’s not just the Australian media and long-suffering rugby public asking questions either. Nor, is this an issue that has cropped up in 2016 as the All Blacks sweep all before them and break world records.
Following the World Cup Final in 2011, Thierry Dusautoir queried multiple decisions that he argued changed the course, if not the result of the game. Many felt France had done enough in the final quarter of the final to earn multiple kickable penalties that simply were not awarded.
Dimitri Yachvili went so far as to say that “the referee was under a lot of pressure. He did not want us to win.”
In 2013 during the Tri-Nations, Stuart Barnes, England’s preeminent rugby commentator called the number of favourable decisions that went New Zealand’s way “disturbing”.
Even an ex-All Black, Justin Marshall, struggled to explain and understand several decisions that went against South Africa including the sending off of Bismarck Du-Plessis for a perfectly timed hit on Dan Carter in Auckland that year.
And so it was that Saturday morning, London time, I sat watching Sean Fitzpatrick not even attempt to justify the referees;’ decision to disallow Speight’s try. Quite simply it was an awful decision, Fitzpatrick said.
Michael Lynagh, a very fair-minded commentator, went ballistic on Twitter claiming “That decision was an absolute joke. Wrong. Game changing.”
That decision was an absolute joke. Wrong. Game changing #NZLvAUS
— Michael Lynagh (@LynaghMichael) 22 de octubre de 2016
Of course even if the Wallabies had gone 17 versus 15 up the All Blacks probably would have won the game. They find a way like wonderful teams do. But the sad thing is we will never know. A classic Test was ruined.
Whatever the case, it is too easy for the parochial Kiwi media and pubic to suggest this is simply a case of sore Aussie losers. There are obviously a lot of disgruntled South Africans and Englishmen too as well as some quite dumbfounded and embarrassed Kiwi greats!
It’s also worth making a couple of further small points.
Shaun Veldsman is not good enough to be a TMO, international referee or even to walk the touch line. He is incompetent. Why he is on the panel and whether he stays there needs to be answered quickly by SARU, SANZAR and the IRB. He is an embarrassment to the game.
Finally, winners are grinners. The All Blacks are magnificent and quite understandably, the Kiwi public is very proud of them. But Aussie rugby is on its knees.
South African rugby has been compromised by political interference. New Zealand may just want to stop and think what that all means for them in the long run.