All Blacks and Lions play out an epic, creating a drawn series for the ages

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    The New Zealand All Blacks (15) and British and Irish Lions (15) played out a magnificent drawn Test at Eden Park to conclude one of the great rugby series.

    The rugby played by both teams in all three Tests, despite the dire conditions in the first two, was of a level of skill, intensity and general game management on defence and attack that was several levels above that achieved by any team in Rugby World Cup 2015.

    Warren Gatland’s 2017 Lions side will forever be linked now with the 1971 Lions team that won a series in New Zealand and the 1974 Lions side that won a series in South Africa as part of a trinity of the greatest Lions sides.

    All the defeatist talk before and during the tour of New Zealand leading up to the first Test at Eden Park has been totally smashed. Amazingly, it was the British rugby writers who were at the forefront of the dire predictions that future tours were in doubt because of the impossibility of professional players performing adequately on a longish overseas tour after a tough season in their home competitions.

    In actual fact, the Lions got better as the tour went on. The quality of the rugby they played at Eden Park was far superior to any of the rugby the team played up to and including the first Test.

    Professional rugby with its longer and tougher club season and the imperative for players from different countries to fit into a local squad has helped the Lions project far more than having any major detrimental effects.

    One of the problems facing Lions sides in the past was somehow convincing players from the four nations to play together as a team, and somehow invest the sort of passion they had for their national team into their Lions performances.

    Coach Gatland discussed this matter before the final Test when he pointed out that one of the psychological problems facing Lions players was how to get them to invest totally, physically and mentally, in a team that only plays every four years.

    After the final Eden Park Test, Gatland explained, the players went back to their clubs and national sides. Most of them would never play for the Lions again.

    But somehow the players had to convince themselves that playing for the Lions represented the summit of their careers, rather than being a sort of one-off honour that lacked the emotional resonance of, say, playing for their nation.

    In the past, this ambivalence between reconciling the manufactured honour of playing for the Lions with the real passion for representing their nation has created problems for the Lions.

    The Welsh players could not get on with the English players. The English players could not get on with any of the other players. And, as a consequence, on the very long tours of the past, there would be splits the size of the Grand Canyon dividing various factions on the teams.

    Irish players, even the ones who weren’t up to Test standard, were often appointed captain because they generally had a geniality that somehow could cover up the nationalist inclinations of some of the other players.

    Even in the professional era, this difficulty of getting the players from the four nations to come together in a united team created havoc in the playing ranks.

    Warren Gatland British and Irish Lions Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/David Rowland)

    Graham Henry’s 2001 Lions was splintered by dissident English players mainly. Sir Clive Woodward’s 2005 Lions was a disaster of split allegiances starting from the coach downwards.

    Gatland’s skill in creating a real team from a diverse squad of players was epitomised at Eden Park on Saturday night by Johnny Sexton, one of the Lions stars on the tour, refusing to go off initially after he twisted his ankle and playing on with cleverness, high skills and pace with what seemed like metres of white tape around his boots.

    Coach Gatland made the point before the final Test that this manufactured nature of the Lions did have some benefits. There was “no pressure” on the players as there was for the All Blacks, he argued.

    The statistics of the Test provide a fair indication of just close and intense play was:

    New Zealand Lions
    98 Tackles 94
    103 Carries 109
    427 Metres Gained 337
    6 Clear Breaks 1
    7 Offloads 1
    21 Turnovers Conceded 17
    9 Penalties 5
    74/76 Rucks won 82/83
    51% Possession 49%
    56% Territory 44%

    The All Blacks had many chances to score tries, especially in the first half, and failed to take most of them. They spent six minutes inside the Lions’ 22 in this first half, a territorial domination that should have allowed the home side to be so fat in front as to close out the result after 40 minutes.

    The Lions’ rush defence, however, was intense and accurate in general and forced a couple of crucial errors.

    The point here is that the rush defence is a high risk and high reward tactic, a bit like the offside trap in football. For the Lions, it paid off in that the All Blacks, despite some sensational attacking rugby, were kept to scoring only two tries.

    But it seems to me that it’s doubtful whether a single British or Irish side would have had the personnel that the Lions had to conduct this high-risk strategy against, say, the All Blacks during a Rugby World Cup tournament.

    Conor Murray British and Irish Lions Rugby Union 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    This Lions team, to their credit, became a special side.

    One of the reasons why this series will be regarded so highly is that it will be some time, in my opinion, before another Lions side will have such a constellation of stars in the backs and forwards: Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell (especially his dead-eye goal kicking), Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray (the player of the series?), Taupule Faletau, Sean O’Brien, Maro Itoje (destined to be England’s new Martin Johnson), and Mako Vunipola.

    All the pressure, then, was on the All Blacks.

    From the travelling British rugby media, we had the usual nonsense about the “cheating” All Blacks. And there was nonsensical commentary from a 2001 Lions trouble-maker Austin Healy about how the All Blacks would be revealed once more as “chokers.”

    Winning three Rugby World Cup tournaments, including the last two in succession, apparently is a sign of a perpetual choking weakness!

    On the other side of the battle was the over-weening superiority complex of the New Zealand rugby media.

    The New Zealand Herald, not content with its stupid Gatland The Clown cartoon, ran a breakout section on the morning of the Test with its six experts not only predicting an All Blacks victory but nominating the scoreline, as well.

    Two of the experts predicted over 30s by the All Blacks, three of them predicted the All Blacks scoring more that 20 points and only one, Campbell Burnes, coming anywhere near the final result with a predicted 19–15 victory.

    We get now to The Incident of the series, as infamous now for New Zealanders (and rightly so) as the ‘Deans Try’ that was not awarded to the All Blacks in their losing Test at Cardiff Arms Park against Wales on their 1905-06 tour of the United Kingdom and France.

    With about two minutes of play left in the Test and the scores locked at 15–15, Beauden Barrett kicked off with a short jab that lofted the ball just over the 10m mark.

    You have to give credit to the All Blacks for this enterprising re-start. If Liam Williams had caught the ball, rather than knocking it forward, the Lions would have been in a prime position to force a long-range penalty to win the match, given that Elliot Daly just after half-time had banged over a 55m shot from inside his own half.

    Under pressure from a challenge in the air from Kieran Read, Williams spilled the ball forward.

    It was caught in an offside position by the replacement Lions hooker, Ken Owens.

    Owens clearly believed he had made a mistake because he gave himself up by giving away the ball.

    Referee Romain Poite now made three decisions.

    The first, to penalise the Lions for offside playing of the ball, that was correct.

    The second, to blow up play, even though the All Blacks were storming through with Anton Lienert-Brown on the ball and in the process of scoring a try or setting up the scoring of a try, that was not a correct decision.

    Then, after an intervention by the Lions captain Sam Warburton, Poite overruled his initial decision of a penalty and changed it to an accidental offside and a scrum feed to the All Blacks rather than a kickable (perhaps) penalty to them.

    All Blacks British and Irish Lions Romain Poite Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    Warren Gatland’s explanation why this over-ruling was justified was just as laughable as the clown’s red nose he wore to the media conference after the Test: “I thought it was a penalty to us. I thought Kieran Read – I didn’t think he had any chance of getting his hand on that – that was my initial thought. That he hit a player in the air.

    “I can understand that he is saying he is competing for that, and the ball has come (down) and landed in Ken Owens’ arms. In fairness to the man next to me (Lions captain Sam Warburton) he has been quite smart and astute and been able to talk the referee from a penalty into an accidental offside.”

    If you believe this nonsense, you will believe anything.

    What is the purpose of having the “accidental offside” rule if every incident like the Owens offside is deemed to be “accidental”?

    When Kieran Read questioned Poite’s decision to overrule his first decision, Poite told him that the ball had touched Owens “accidentally.”

    Read told him correctly that Owens had “caught” the ball. This is what actually happened.

    So Poite made his call based on a factual matter that he got wrong.

    New Zealand rugby writer Marc Hinton was spot-on with this analysis: “How could Poite change his decision when the video replay clearly showed replacement hooker Ken Owens had been in front of Liam Williams when he killed the ball forward from the kick-off? But he did.

    “It was as if he decided he did not want this match to end on that note, after Lions superboot Owen Farrell had drilled his second 48-metre penalty to level the scores.”

    The law that Poite sort of ruled on or against is this: “When a player knocks-on and an offside teammate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to a sanction if the player prevents an opponent from gaining an advantage.” The sanction, in this case, is a penalty.

    It is hard to disagree with Hinton that Poite made the wrong decision in overturning his original and correct decision to award a penalty against the Lions.

    The mistake was compounded with the intervention of the assistant referee Jerome Garces who seemed to suggest to Poite, after he had confirmed his original decision after going to the TMO to watch the video of the incident, that he should overrule his original decision.

    This intervention represents a terrible mistake by Garces and by Poite. The TMO system should not be used to check on matters like accidental or non-accidental offside.

    When the TMO review confirmed (again correctly) that Read had contested legally for the ball in the air, the original penalty had to stand.

    Poite and Garces must have known this.

    The All Blacks, unlike the Lions who now go into a four-year recess before their tour of South Africa, are on the path to rebuilding a new team to try to win a third successive Rugby World Cup tournament. As the phrase goes, they are a work in progress.

    All Blacks British and Irish Lions Rugby Union 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    They played all the series against the Lions without Dane Coles and two Tests without Ben Smith, two of the stalwarts of the latest edition of the All Blacks.

    At Eden Park, they started two players, Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape, who are going to be important players in the Rugby World Cup 2019 squad.

    It would not surprise me if Jordie Barrett is kept at fullback for The Rugby Championship Tests, even when Ben Smith comes back into the starting side in the winger/fullback role played by Israel Dagg.

    Barrett’s aerial skills and running game complement the play of his brother Beauden. He is also a better goal-kicker than his brother and could take over the goal-kicking duties from the erratic Beauden.

    The first shot at goal in the final Test by Beauden Barrett was the sort of shank that most of us have perpetrated on the first tee of a difficult course as nervous golfers.

    Beauden Barrett, it seems to me, is one of those dynamic players, Jeff Wilson was another one, whose erratic goal-kicking sometimes inhibits his uninhibited, free-running game.

    Handing over the kicking duties to someone else would allow Beauden Barrett to play with the sort of brilliant freedom and expressiveness that marked Jeff Wilson’s play when he was freed of the psychological burden of having to kick winning goals.

    New Zealand journalists, in the main, were convinced that Beauden Barrett would have kicked the winning goal if referee Romain Poite had kept to his original and correct decision to award a penalty against Ken Owens.

    I am not so sure.

    I can’t remember a clutch kick at goal that Beauden Barrett was booted over.

    We will never know whether the goal would have been kicked. But what was seems clear to me is that Steve Hansen is on track to putting together a formidable All Blacks side for this year and going into the Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament.

    The bottom line is this. No other national side in world rugby, aside from the All Blacks, could have come close to defeating the Lions at Eden Park on Saturday night.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (298)

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2017 @ 7:33am
      Carlos the Argie said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report


      BBBB kicked quite well in the final of Super Rugby last year. And it was in his house with bad weather if I remember correctly.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 10:44am
        Ryan said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        His conversion kicking needs work admittedly but we can’t leave the best player in the world out. Good series, shame about the incorrect decision at end. Ah wells, we’re still triple World Champions – well done mighty mighty All Blacks!!

        • July 11th 2017 @ 11:40am
          Perthstayer said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          my oh my.

          Is the Owens decision worse than the Warburton decision in the first minute because it happened at the end of the game?

          All Blacks bottled it. That long in the opposition 22 with no try is failure. The Owens penalty is a Trump like tactic to deflect attention from leaving so many points out on the pitch in the first half.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 11th 2017 @ 11:49am
            piru said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

            Trump like?

          • July 11th 2017 @ 4:18pm
            double agent said | July 11th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            The non penalty is a tactic?

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2017 @ 7:51am
      Jokerman said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Awesome article, Spiro!

      Cool words, and it soothes the pain a bit haha.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 8:00am
        MH01 said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        so a biased journalistic effort πŸ™‚ I give you credit JM, you did not hide your frustration in the last two games πŸ™‚ though you are as bias as they come. Don’t worry ABs still aweosme!

        • Roar Guru

          July 10th 2017 @ 1:54pm
          Jokerman said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

          Thanks, MH. The All Blacks will be just fine. You can’t make those errors against a quality team like the Lions.

          I feel the All Blacks should win in 2019. This series has worked well for that goal.

          Spiro wasn’t biased at all. It was an informative, positive article, that mentions the big ref decision at the end. If he didn’t mention it it would leave the rest…kinda half-baked. It gave the article substance and completion.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 11:45am
            Perthstayer said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

            JM – a claim of no bias to a writer of bias from a biased contributor.

            Perhaps the “unofficial” fourth test vs Maori should be used to determine the overall winner.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 6:16pm
        Drongo said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

        I am just wondering who gets the first clown suit? The line up of contenders is enormous. Better get in line Jokerman, it will take a while to get them all made. I think everyone who boasted of an easy three nil whitewash should get a freebie.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 10th 2017 @ 7:58pm
          System of a Downey Jr said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

          Most of the UK press then

        • Roar Guru

          July 10th 2017 @ 9:19pm
          Jokerman said | July 10th 2017 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

          You seem to know a bit about clown making suits, Drongo.

          I believe Stephen King is doing a remake of It. It could be your chance. I reckon your acting skills will be pretty lame (though playing the victim could be your thing) but with your look, and attitude…it could be the break you’re needing.

          • Roar Guru

            July 11th 2017 @ 2:36am
            Carlos the Argie said | July 11th 2017 @ 2:36am | ! Report

            Drongo should change his name to Chucky….

            • July 11th 2017 @ 7:07am
              Riccardo said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

              Nope. His moniker suits him just fine.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 6:47am
            Drongo said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

            Never let the clown inside die Jokerman. Let’s be honest, the more clowns on here (including me) the better it is. Just taking the p!ss Australian style. I am sure there will be plenty of ammunition to fire back come the RC.

            • Roar Guru

              July 11th 2017 @ 10:24am
              Jokerman said | July 11th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

              All good, Drongo!


            • July 11th 2017 @ 8:10pm
              Drongo said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

              What isn’t at all funny is the disgustingly racist comments by Andrew Mehrtens on Kick and Chase against the French referees and the French in general. What a total ‘peanut’ to use his term.

              • July 12th 2017 @ 2:29pm
                Jacko said | July 12th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

                Peanut? Racist? what country or race does Peanut refer to?

    • July 10th 2017 @ 7:56am
      MH01 said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Sound like a whinge Spiro, as a kiwi journalist, showing your colours mate πŸ˜‰

      You are better off analysing why the all blacks did not setup for a field goal.

      Though if you want to get hung up on this decision for the next 12 years, have you seen footage to confirm Reid was onside? Nope . Ive seen the replays and have not seen a while angle shot.

      Was a great game, shame it’s about that one decision for so many. A good team takes the ref out of the equation, the ABs failed to do so on the day by leaving too many point out here, not the refs fault.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 10:23am
        Buckman said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Have you seen any showing he was offside?

        • July 10th 2017 @ 10:43am
          The Sheriff said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          I though Read knocked the ball on….

          • July 10th 2017 @ 12:07pm
            PB said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

            Yup. Read launched himself in a desperate high risk effort to interfere. Touching the ball is his only defence. If he did touch the ball it was a knock on. If he did’t touch the ball it’s a penalty.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 10th 2017 @ 12:13pm
              piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

              Under what law?

            • Roar Rookie

              July 10th 2017 @ 6:08pm
              Paulo said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

              And yet he did neither and after slow mo replay was cleared of any wrong doing… must be a conspiracy by the refs against the Lions… who then 10secs later made a farcical decision to reverse the onfield decision already made to rob the ABs of a kick at goal to win the game/series… must be a conspiracy by the refs against the ABs. Wait what?

              • July 11th 2017 @ 4:20pm
                double agent said | July 11th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                Nice work Paulo!!!!!!

        • July 10th 2017 @ 11:24pm
          Dublin Dave said | July 10th 2017 @ 11:24pm | ! Report

          Gerry Thornley, one of the better Irish rugby writers, says in today’s Irish Times that Read was “three yards in front of the ball” when the restart after Farrell’s last penalty was taken so it should have been a scrum back to the Lions on the half way line. (Law 13.3) Haven’t seen any wide angle footage to confirm that statement but reputable journalists don’t lie.
          Do they?

          BTW Yards? What are they, Grandad?

          • July 12th 2017 @ 7:39am
            richard said | July 12th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

            Gerry Thornley – the same bleating Irishman having a massive whinge after the Dublin test last year?? He has about as much credibility as Stephen Jones.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 12:08pm
        ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Well let’s hear your analysis…regards the field goal.

        Seems to be a bit of noise coming from your direction without much behind it.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 5:02pm
        Tiger said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

        “A good team takes the ref out of the equation, the ABs failed to do so on the day by leaving too many points out there…” So you thought our boys played better than the Lions as well, thanks for acknowledging that. If only others could find the strength to admit it. Why is it, that the first part of your sentence (from what I’ve seen) only ever applies to the ABs and not their opposition?

    • July 10th 2017 @ 8:02am
      mad mick said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      If you look at the replay and use the signage on the ground as guideline the ball from Williams shoulder actually does not go forward. It goes towards his own goal line. Owens is in an off side position at the time Williams first touches the ball. By the time Owens touches the ball Owens is in a in a position that would put him on side in relation to the position at which Williams first made contact with the ball. The correct decisions would have been to play on.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 8:04am
        Jerry said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        I think every NZer would have been happy with play on given ALB’s possession & position…..

      • July 10th 2017 @ 9:18am
        wyn said | July 10th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        MM – I thought thought I was the only one that saw the ball going backward. Poite’s error in this instance was that he was too quick on the whistle. Once he had blown it (sic), the only correct decision from there was the one he and TMO made – restart, team going forward’s advantage.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 9:57am
          mad mick said | July 10th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          You are 100% correct.
          The ball went off Williams upper arm/ shoulder towards his own goal line. Owens was initially in an offside position and he too was moving toward his own goal line. By the time the ball came in contact with Owens he was on side in relation to the the initial contact point.Therefore once the referee had blown to stop play the correct decision was to set a scrum probably with a Lions feed.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 12:48pm
            double agent said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report


          • July 10th 2017 @ 1:02pm
            Reverse Wheel said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Why is no one questioning why there was no penalty against Read? He made no contact with the ball and clearly took out the receiver in the air. That has been a penalty for as long as I can remember. Suddenly it’s a Lion’s attacking lineout in NZ territory.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 10th 2017 @ 1:21pm
              piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

              Contesting the kick is a penalty if you don’t touch the ball?

              • July 10th 2017 @ 5:25pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

                if ur not a realistic chance to catch it piru. we went over it in some detail on the match summary article. pretty sure i had everyone come around to my point of view by the end of it

                you could argue thats not how its reffed but thats the black and white rule

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 5:28pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

                He missed it by inches, surely that constitutes a realistic chance.

                If the receiver hadn’t turned his back and blocked him he would have taken it

              • July 10th 2017 @ 5:34pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

                not of catching it and thats what the rule specifically requires.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 5:40pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                I disagree, if he can get a hand to he can catch it – rule 1

              • July 10th 2017 @ 5:48pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

                be interested if youve got any examples of anyone taking a one hander with back turned off the kick off before.

                i think if no one ever has taken a catch like that before its a bit much to say some ones a reaslitic chance of doing it and given he’s half a foot away from touching it at all fair to say anyone pulling it off would need to be in a better position

              • July 10th 2017 @ 8:43pm
                Playerfromwayback said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

                What about tapping the ball back one handed? Pretty sure you would have seen that a few times Soap.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 6:22pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

                soapit which law are we talking about here?

                I assumed it was law 10 but I can’t see anything about having to have a realistic chance of making a catch

              • July 10th 2017 @ 6:44pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

                direct copy from jerry’s post yesterday.

                IRB Law guidelines

                Challenging players in the air – Law 10.4(i)

                Play on – Fair challenge with both players in a realistic position to catch the ball. Even if the player(s) land(s) dangerously, play on

                not sure where he pulled it from. didnt check it myself i must admit. guideline not a black and white rule evidently on second look.

              • July 10th 2017 @ 7:13pm
                Graeme said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

                What about knocking the ball back to then enable a teammate to gather. A common enough event when contesting a kick. According to this law, if they didn’t have a realistic chance of catching the ball then that is not legal.
                The law is subjective. How does one objectively determine a realistic chance?

              • July 10th 2017 @ 7:22pm
                Reverse Wheel said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

                The way I’ve seen it reffed this year is if you’re going up for it then you better make sure you get something on it or you’re running a big risk. Ref even said as much onfield in one of the Tahs games earlier this season.

              • July 10th 2017 @ 7:38pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:38pm | ! Report

                didnt see that but thats the way i like it reverse wheel, take the risk if you like but the responsibility lies with the team that put up the kick to get it right or not contest in the air.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 11th 2017 @ 6:53pm
                Paulo said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

                What if you contest in the air but never actually intend to catch it? You see alot of this, particularly with box kicks and cross field kicks. The idea is tou bat it down to your other chasing players. Are these all considered fair contests?

              • July 12th 2017 @ 7:30pm
                Col in paradise said | July 12th 2017 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

                Then it’s a knock on by Reid – or it’s a penalty !!!!!

          • July 10th 2017 @ 8:12pm
            lassitude said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

            I agree. The major culpable non-decision here was the complete failure to play advantage.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm
          connor33 said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          I’ve now looked at the replay some 10 times, and its plausible that the ball did go back or perhaps square from LW’s shoulder.

          Why it looks like it went forward is because the Lions player is knocked back several yard from the point of contact. 50/50 at best.

          Hypothetically, if the ball went back is there scope that Owens was still off-side? Genuine question. If it was soccer, Owens would still be considered off-side because he caught the ball coming back from an off-side position.

          In any event, the fact that this whole issue has become a another 2007 Barnes-like forward pass is incredible. Two things:

          1. the Abs should have gone for a drop goal to take the referee out of the equation; and
          2. Read should never have pulled Williams off the ball at the 43rd minute of the game–leading to one of the best penalty goals kicked in a Lions series–Daly’s 55m bullet.

          But Poite really is a despicable referee, though, isn’t he? He let an accidental offside this year and accidental eye gouge last year when both plays were right in front of his own eyes. Such is life I guess.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 10th 2017 @ 1:37pm
            piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

            My take on this is that if the ball went backward, law 11.6 applies and the offside player, being unable to avoid the ball (despite catching it, it still would have hit him) would be correctly ruled as accidentally offside.

            If it went forward, 11.7 applies, and whether he played at the ball or not is immaterial – he’s offside and the sanction is a penalty kick.

            It pretty much all comes down to whether it was ruled a knock on or not, and Poite didn’t make any comment to this effect. You could extrapolate, I suppose, that him saying ‘it was accidental’ implies he was applying 11.6 and therefore didn’t believe a knock on occurred – and that would make sense.

            • July 10th 2017 @ 2:39pm
              Ruckin' Oaf said | July 10th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

              11.6(a) states ” When an offside player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a team-mate carrying it, the player is accidentally offside……”

              From that it’s arguable that it’s the ability to avoid being touched by the ball that is the key. Looking at the reply I don’t think that it’s possible for Owens to avoid touching the ball. No matter what he did he was going to come in contact with the ball.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 3:54pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

                true, but as I said above, 11.6 is only applicable if there was no knock on.

                Offside after a knock on has it’s own law

              • July 10th 2017 @ 8:26pm
                Ruckin Oaf said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

                Hey Piru,

                But under 11.7 it’s only when “a player knocks-on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball”

                So it would then come down to if he played the ball or not or and if that is the case then should accidental offside have precedence ?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 11th 2017 @ 10:39am
                piru said | July 11th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

                Ahh ok I see where you’re coming from.

                Weird that 10.6 takes the time to differentiate between playing the ball and inadvertently being hit by it, but 10.7 leaves it ambiguous.

        • Roar Guru

          July 10th 2017 @ 2:31pm
          Jokerman said | July 10th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          It was not a hard decision. Advantage play on. But he blew his whistle and awarded a penalty. Okay, I guess, but then he went to the TMO. He wasn’t allowed to but he could smudge it looking for foul play. The replay gives him clarity and he gets reassurance from the TMO. They confirm the decision. Then it appears he gets some words from Garces and he convinces him to change his mind.

          Garces reffed the RWC’15 semi. It was Wyne Barnes all over again. Penalty count 13-6. Only a Carter drop goal to separate the two teams. It was one of the worst biased refereeing I have since Wayne Barnes.

          Garces gave a red to SBW in the second test, against the TMO. Though he was always hesitant to give a card to the Lions. Even the TMO said something like..”listen…” In reflection, most agree it deserved a red. At the time though, most would have given SBW a yellow. A yellow seemed the consensus at the time.

          Garces comes in at the final moment to throw doubt into Poite. He needs to be investigated. And who appointed him in the first place after the RWC semi? It’s like picking a jury for a crime. If your client is weak or guilty, you don’t pick informed, sensible, open-minded people.

          The All Blacks though had to price this in. Garces was worth 15-20 point to the Lions.

          Haha…I was trying to let this go! And I wonder if this was the change in attitude with Hansen, post match and the day after regarding this issue: Garces.

          Awesome tour. No one can deny that. Garces was petty though and he needs to be held accountable.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 4:40pm
            Jacko said | July 10th 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

            77min 54secs: Barrett restarts with a contestable kick to Lions fullback Liam Williams, who knocks it forward and into the arms of Owens under pressure from a leaping Kieran Read.

            Realising what he has done, Owens drops the ball immediately and it is picked up by Anton Lienert-Brown, but Poite blows his whistle for a penalty to the All Blacks about 30m and out and near in front of the posts.

            Romain Poite: “Playing in an offside position, 16.”

            Poite then moves to Jaco Peyper, his nearest assistant referee.

            RP to JP: “The red [player] touched the ball and 16 got the ball in front.”

            Poite asks television match official George Ayoub to check the challenge of Read on Williams.

            9 Jul, 2017 4:51pm
            time to read clock icon 4 minutes to read

            9 Jul, 2017 6:24pm
            time to read clock icon 3 minutes to read
            George Ayoub: “Romain, they are all the angles.”

            RP: “Are you happy for the knock-on? Is the challenge in the air fair? And a penalty kick against 16 red for being in front?”

            GA: “Yes I am.”

            After having made up his mind to stick with a penalty for the All Blacks, Poite leaves Peyper but Jerome Garces then gets involved.

            RP: “Oui, Jerome.”

            Poite walks back to Read and Warburton, who are waiting for the decision which will alter the course of the test and the series.

            RP: “We have a deal, we have a deal for the offside from 16. He didn’t play deliberately at the ball, okay? It was an accidental offside.”

            Kieran Read: “No, no, no, no, no.”

            RP: “It was an accidental offside, we go for a scrum, black.

            KR: “Romain, Romain, in the rules there is no accidental offside. If you run into your own man…”

            RP: “The ball touch him…”

            KR: “He caught the ball…”

            RP: “We play, okay?”

            • July 10th 2017 @ 4:41pm
              Jacko said | July 10th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

              I would love to know what “WE HAD A DEAL means wouldnt you?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 5:00pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

                He actually does say ‘we have a deal’…. surely that’s a translation thing though

                And he also confirms that it was a knock on – therefore 11.7, therefore no accidental offside!

              • Roar Guru

                July 10th 2017 @ 5:03pm
                Jokerman said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                So dodgy. Garces. I’m unsure why Poite listened.

                Really poor words by Polite. He knew he was being recorded though so it may just have been a poor choice of words as his English ain’t the best. But saying “a deal” under an incorrect and dodgy call to likely decide the series…not a good look.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 5:10pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

                Poite said something in French just before too, it must have been to Garces –

                Ca (something), oui Jerome.

                The something to me sounds like the English word challenge – perhaps they were talking about Read?

              • July 10th 2017 @ 5:30pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

                nice pick up piru on 11.7, tho id argue that momentarily catching it and dropping it straight to the all black didnt prevent nz from gaining an advantage so could be ruled play on.

                but once its blown you cant so perhaps poite really did know the rules better than everyone!

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 5:43pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

                I think as soon as the bloke caught it, the advantage was dead – I don’t have a problem with that if he’s saying it was a knock on.

              • July 10th 2017 @ 5:52pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                hard to argue given your centre got it straight away and charged forward. what better outcome would have come from that situation for nz you reckon?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 6:18pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

                If the ball had just hit the bloke and bounced, yes sure, but the instant he caught it the advantage died – Lions had possession.

                Sure he dropped it straight after, but it’s too late then.

              • July 10th 2017 @ 6:23pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

                advantage means better. what situation could have been a better result than the one that resulted before it was blown up?

                the instant he touched it the question of whether theres an still advantage comes up (by the wording of the law). theres a good case that there was.

              • Roar Guru

                July 10th 2017 @ 6:29pm
                Jokerman said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

                On the second to last scrum Perenara said:

                “I thought we were scrumming for a penalty. I don’t know if it was or wasn’t [a penalty], Rhys Webb came through made a play on the ball and, yeah, they ended up with the ball,”

                Dominant scrum. Going forward, and sideways. Penalty to the All Blacks. But Poite had frozen. He wouldn’t call it. The next scrum, he didn’t want to wait, and the All Blacks had to clear the ball before they wanted. Poite couldn’t even make a decision for full time. He was double checking.

                Poite was fine to penalise the All Blacks for not rolling away on the 76 mark. Tough call, as it was milked. And you just knew the Lions would be all over it.

                If he could do it, I would have left Aaron Smith on. Kept Savea. Perenara can get hyper and make errors sometimes.

                The scrum when the Lions half gets the ball and the break from Barrett at the deth. He stayed in, and Perenara was poorly positioned and he picked up the ball and was driven into touch. Oh the margins…the All Blacks had so many missed chances !?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 6:32pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

                advantage means better. what situation could have been a better result than the one that resulted before it was blown up?

                the instant he touched it the question of whether theres an still advantage comes up (by the wording of the law). theres a good case that there was.

                Not really – as soon as offside player touches the ball – advantage. Offside player now holding the ball – no advantage – penalty.

                If he’d let it go, I’m sure there wouldn’t have been many complaints, I’m just saying I understand why he blew it up.

              • July 10th 2017 @ 6:48pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

                he did let it go pretty much immediately tho didnt he? he just dropped it cold. not like he threw it to a team mate (tho testing my memory now i admit)

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 6:53pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

                He did, only had it for about a second, but his having possession kills the advantage.

              • July 10th 2017 @ 7:01pm
                soapit said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                not on and off its own it doesnt, what if he threw it 10metres backwards straight to an ab who scores untouched. theres an pretty indisputable advantage right there

              • Roar Rookie

                July 11th 2017 @ 10:42am
                piru said | July 11th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

                not on and off its own it doesnt, what if he threw it 10metres backwards straight to an ab who scores untouched. theres an pretty indisputable advantage right there

                I think we’re arguing semantics now, I do see your point I’m just saying I understand why Poite blew it up

              • July 11th 2017 @ 2:47pm
                soapit said | July 11th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                im sure piru, im talking largely theoretical. rugbys rules can be applied any old which way the way theyre written

            • Roar Guru

              July 10th 2017 @ 10:38pm
              Poth Ale said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:38pm | ! Report


              This is not a completely accurate account of what was said – that was the version that Stuff came up with,

              After viewing the replay with Pepyer, Poite says:
              Poite: The Red touched the ball in the second time, and 16 got the ball in front.
              TMO – Romain, they are all the angles
              Poite – Yeah. Are you ok for eh, for the knock on, and for the challenge in the air fair, and penalty kick eh against 16 red for in front?
              TMO – Yes I am
              Poite: Ok

              Poite turns to both captains and says to Warburton whilst holding his fingers of hands together:
              Poite: Fair challenge. Oui Jerome?

              Poite walks back further listening to something that Garces says but so far, no one knows what Garces says.

              After some chat by both captains to their players, they both listen to Poite who says:

              Poite: We have a deal (he means agreement). We have a deal about the offside from 16.
              Read: Yes.
              Warburton: Black or Red?
              Poite: eh 16 Red, ok?
              Warburton: Oh yeah
              Poite: He didn’t play deliberately the ball, ok? It was an accidental offside
              Read: No, no. No.
              Poite: It was an accidental offside. We go for a scrum for Black.
              Read: Romain, Romain, in the rules, there is no accidental offside
              Poite: It was…
              Read: No, no, the ball touched the hand…
              Poite: It was It was, because the ball touch him (Poite gestures to his left shoulder to indicate where ball hit), it wasn’t first play (he gestures with his left hand mimicking the hand hitting the ball) Ok? We play for a scrum.

              So what Poite appears to be saying to Read is that the ball hit Owens on the shoulder area meaning it is accidental, as opposed to Owens deliberately playing the ball with his hand.

              So yes, the TMO and Poite did confirm that there was a knock-on, that there was a fair challenge, and that it was a penalty kick against 16 for being in front.

              It would appear that Garces must have intervened with something to remind Poite of the “accidental offside” law, and that Owens didn’t deliberately handle the ball.

              What I find curious about this intervention from Garces is that Poite’s face is absolutely expressionless. His face doesn’t reveal anything, he doesn’t nod or disagree, or even question. He just assembles the two captains and tells them. Both captains think that he is going to award a penalty.


              • July 11th 2017 @ 6:20am
                soapit said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:20am | ! Report

                perhaps poite was confirming whether they agreed on the penalty red issue but that there was no penalty? (taking a bit of license with his english of course)

              • July 11th 2017 @ 12:35pm
                Pinetree said | July 11th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                “Warburton: Black or Red?”

                Warburton was sharp as a knife on that one….haha! All the other issues aside, Warburton played a captain’s role with the ref that had the calm of McCaw.

              • July 12th 2017 @ 2:37pm
                Jacko said | July 12th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

                Pot he uses the word DEAL…You may think he means agreement but nowhere is this apparrent to anybody listening…The sentence “we had a deal” has some massive implications to it. Maybe it needs to be explained ( now that they have had a week to think abiut their excuse) to the public because my english calls a deal between a ref and a AR as dirty reffing

          • July 10th 2017 @ 4:47pm
            Northkiwi said | July 10th 2017 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

            Yep, advantage and play on, ALB etc would have gone close, if not back for the penalty. Poite and Garces clearly didn’t want to be perceived as deciding the series, although Garces wierd penalty in the 2nd test with 3 mins to play didn’t seem to both him. The audio shows him saying “we have a deal”, translation – we have a way to not give a penalty. There isn’t an argument that Read did anything wrong, if he did every restart by both sides would be a penalty.

            Both sides copped some rough ones from the french refs. If that decision had been in the 10th minute, no-one would be saying anything. Only due to the timing was it an issue.

            I went to the game and the pre-match and after-match bars. Great atmosphere and fun. If it was soccer there would have been riot police, but there were no incidents at all. The Lions fans around us had a great time on their tours, couldn’t speak highly enough of the hospitality. Met a couple of Irish guys who flew in from Dublin 10AM Saturday morning, and back out again 24 hours later. Can’t fault that ….

            Lions played really well and found ways to trouble the AB’s, – who as a result didn’t take opportunities they normally would. Missing some key players was a part of that, but that affected both sides. The AB’s inability to score tries meant that the refs came to prominence for all the wrong reasons. But thats sport. The sun still came up.

          • July 12th 2017 @ 1:17am
            Faith said | July 12th 2017 @ 1:17am | ! Report

            Jokerman, you’ve seen that Garces has been given two RC games involving the toughest ABs games vs Aus and S.A both away. In spite of the pain, I think that these experiences will hold ABs in good stead for the big one in 2019 …

            • July 12th 2017 @ 2:42pm
              Jacko said | July 12th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

              Why is this sad human being given games to ref anymore? He is so Anti NZ it is obvious to the world yet the rugby world keeps allowing it. I cant help but hope that he gets SORTED and retires

    • July 10th 2017 @ 8:12am
      Jigbon said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Nz 0 lions 0 rugby 1
      That’s the best outcome for the game as a whole. We can argue about penalties fir both sides in that game as both sides were at the receiving end of some Renault type decisions ..the best thing is that it shows the finally the nuns are not invincible. And rugby so needed that. Great series great coaching. Now can we get Andy Farrell to coach Australia in defence .
      Otherwise it’s it’s genocide come aug nineteen.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 10:32am
        Buk said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        Andy Farrell as Wallabies defence coach. An Einstein moment Jigbon. However, the ARU, like me, probably never had it cross their minds.
        I was certainly impressed by how quickly the Lions player would get up from a tackle or ruck and move swiftly back into position in the defence line. Looks like they had practiced that defence line big time.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 12:28pm
          Markie362 said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          As a kiwi I say congrats to the lions.the only proviso is I hated their yelling to disrupt the kiwi line out calls and how they continually slowed. The game down at stoppages ,but that’s great coaching if you can get away with it

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2017 @ 8:31am
      Will Sinclair said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      What a wonderful game and series – and a brilliant advertisement for the game of rugby.

      I can’t help but wonder whether Romaine Poite was thinking about the disgraceful treatment of his colleague Craig Joubert as he was preparing to make his final decision.

      Joubert had to make a very tough 50/50 decision in the heat of the moment and, when there were sufficient complaints from the media and other stakeholders, he was completely thrown under the bus by his superiors. And, so, an accomplished referee, who might otherwise have expected to be involved in a Lions series, has had his career curtailed.

      So you have to wonder whether Poite was just weighing up the risk of being thrown under the bus as well… and decided that a draw was the safest option available.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 12:08pm
        PB said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        well put

      • July 10th 2017 @ 12:50pm
        double agent said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

        That could well be true. Ironically by doing what he did he’s made it a thousand times worse for himself!

        • July 10th 2017 @ 3:39pm
          Sage said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

          How so?

      • July 10th 2017 @ 12:56pm
        Misha said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        If thats so then he should never ref again because that is not his role or decision to make. His first call for a penalty was 100% correct – his change of mind was abysmal and will forever now be associated with him as being a very poor referee who botched a major Lions test series.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 1:03pm
          Reverse Wheel said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          He made the correct decision in the end. So what if he took a while to get there?

        • July 10th 2017 @ 3:43pm
          Sage said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          Your hyperbole doesn’t equate to fact Misha, just subjective opinion. I can understand all Kiwi’s being disappointed but what you’ve written about Poite is just the stuff of tantrums

        • July 10th 2017 @ 4:43pm
          Jacko said | July 10th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          He got it wrong completely and Garces was the one who mafde the decision and said WE HAD A DEAL…..Very sus

          • Roar Rookie

            July 10th 2017 @ 5:00pm
            piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

            It was Poite who said we have a deal

            • July 10th 2017 @ 6:08pm
              Drongo said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

              He meant that they had agreed on it, which is obvious if you allocated 3 brain cells to the issue.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 10th 2017 @ 6:23pm
                piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

                That’s what I assumed, too

                no need for that

              • July 10th 2017 @ 7:28pm
                Reverse Wheel said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

                Clearly he was referring to a deal with the bookmakers. No NZ team has ever failed to win except by conspiracy.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 3:45am
                Graeme said | July 11th 2017 @ 3:45am | ! Report

                lol.Everyone assumes he was talking to Garces. He may have been wired up to the bookies!

              • July 10th 2017 @ 8:18pm
                rebel said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:18pm | ! Report

                Who agreed on it? There was no audio of anyone agreeing on that decision.

            • July 12th 2017 @ 2:45pm
              Jacko said | July 12th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

              We had a deal means it was preconceived…thats called cheating..plain and simple the guy shoulb be charged for determining the outcome of a sporting event. You cant prove that he meant what you say he meant…I am going off the transcript….you are making stuff up…changing his words…

    , ,