Lions rock New Zealand

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    It was an epic tour. Faith No More, almost epic. Emotions were high with so much at stake in a 12-year event.

    The Lions fans were something special. They came in their masses, sang and flowed along with what seemed like the ultimate holiday.

    I was in Wellington for the second test. It’s my home. The town really changed. The roads were closed around the CBD, and it had a carnival feel. I jumped on my bike wearing my diamond beanie – a signature hat of mine; it’s warm and it can probably pass as a helmet too.

    I enjoyed having no cars around on the street. I wore a red jumper that day. Just a random last-minute item to wear as it was cold. The Lions fans didn’t quite know what to think of me. An avid All Black supporter in some kind of disguise. Most of them trod carefully around me as if I was about to spring a surprise.

    But it was the Lions who surprised us. They were much better than what we all thought, and they improved immensely week by week. As Spiro mentioned in his Monday article, the stars seemed to align for them with the number of special players they had.

    Once the dust settled it was clear that these were the two best teams in the world, and when the two best come together one has to go away a loser. That seems a little unfair, but as we saw, it was a draw, so there were no losers really.

    From an All Black perspective there was frustration at the red card, the yellow card, the rub of the green for the Lions with the refereeing. Their slow-down tactics, Beauden Barrett missing kicks, and the final referee decision which may have changed the result. All that stings. Perhaps it stings more because it’s a once-in-12-year event. The Lions played their luck, and when you’re special sometimes things just go your way.

    As an All Black supporter you can get used to winning. You expect it, and expectations can let you down. What the Lions brought was high skill and an amazing team. For the first time in a while, the All Blacks had a new style facing them, and no easy points. The All Blacks had to play excellent rugby and finish well and make limited errors, but they didn’t – the red card, the yellow card, missed kicks and not taking their opportunities let them down.

    (Image: AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    The final test should have been finished in the first half. The killer punch was missing. Julian Savea dropping the ball with the line wide open was something I didn’t expect.

    The All Blacks left it to the death, and with a French referee that is not ideal. I thought he refereed okay right up until the 78th minute, where he doubted himself, his mind took over and the All Black nemesis, Jerome Garces, whispered into his ear and fuelled his doubts and fears.

    This has placed the All Blacks well going into the 2019 Rugby World Cup. They found Jordie Barrett. They found out they need a true test kicker, not a makeshift, and Jordie should be the key here.

    Head-high tackles will also kill the All Blacks. A match can be lost on one, as we saw. Read should learn, too. Holding a man back really cost his team. He should know better. It was a vital moment where it invited the Lions back in. If the All Blacks scored first in the second half, the game was almost over. Barrett from the halftime kickoff, followed by Reads indiscretion was a momentum destroyer.

    Any other day or team and the All Blacks would have got what they wanted, but this Lions team were special, and the Lions have possibly set the All Blacks to go to another level – they have to if they are to win the cup 2019. It looks bright to me. There was so much learning. The All Blacks will be hurting. It’s a reality check for them, and reality always comes in to show where you’re truly at.

    Sam Warburton was genuine and such a sincere, likeable captain. He was so deserving of the success he achieved, and he looked so happy at the end of it all.

    The All Blacks missed Dane Coles and Ben Smith. Their midfield shuffle and a red and a yellow card was too much. The Lions took it from there.

    Simplicity is often the key to life: it’s being free of the past, true to what has happened and, among the pain that reality gives, sometimes finding the wisdom that the experience came in for and growing from it.

    So it’s not too bad after all – it never really is if you keep your mind out of it.

    The All Blacks will be just fine. The Lions were spectacular, and so it is.

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    The Crowd Says (97)

    • Columnist

      July 13th 2017 @ 4:32am
      Nicholas Bishop said | July 13th 2017 @ 4:32am | ! Report

      Glad you found a point of reconciliation now that the series is ended J-man.

      The mind is full of false expectations, but these Lions had their own reality – one which was good enough to cause the AB’s some discomfort!

      It will enable another more vigorous cycle of development to begin.

      • Roar Guru

        July 13th 2017 @ 6:13am
        taylorman said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:13am | ! Report

        Still the exception Nick?
        Us ever optimistic AB fans will reserve their thinking until it proves to be more than a one off.

        Lions go back into their wardrobe for four years leaving the four to fight on separately.

        I think it will force a rethink on the tactical implications across the SH and at some point SANZAR or at least the NZRFU is going to have to address the player movement to the NH issue. It’s not just the Project players but the increasing numbers being removed from the test selection equation.

        What still puzzles me is why the NH invest so heavily offshore when every dollar that goes there denies a potential local player or coach. Does reflect how selfish the clubs are if they’re still prepared to buy ready made than invest in its youth.

        Interesting days ahead and the end of year tours will be an interesting guide to where the NH, SH are at. I expect Oz and certainly SA to start turning their fortunes around.

        The shift in the NH over the period since the Wcup, when none could make the top 4 suggests a spike more than a trend but we’ll just have to see how that pans out. And if it does realise into something of substance…then it’s ABOUT TIME!!! ?. Watching NH sides mostly struggling for almost the entire pro era, and earlier, despite having clearly better resources across the four than NZ has been disappointing to say the least.

        Great tour, a refreshing change to what we get here, and makes for a real interesting next couple of years, thevWorld Cup probably fitting in neutral territory for the favourites for the first time.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 7:43am
          Shaun said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

          I think South Africa are going to suprise a few people this year! People were outraged and calling for sackings etc etc, but didnt realise that the team they’ve had since the world cup is the youngest theyve had in living memory. That team will be starting to mature and gel now and i think they will be battling with the All Blacks and England for the next one.

        • Columnist

          July 13th 2017 @ 7:55am
          Nicholas Bishop said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

          It will be interesting to see whether there is now a temptation to make more frequent Lions tours, or even stage a home Lions series in the UK T-man…

          • July 13th 2017 @ 8:12am
            Council said | July 13th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

            Oh oh oh oh I’ve just had a genius idea..

            Once every four years, in the middle of a Lions tour cycle, it would be great to see the Lions get together and take on the challenge of the four touring SH teams.

            The bragging rights between the Sanzaar nations would be fantastic for us fans, and be something a little bit different too.

            Though… Would the Home Nations like this?

          • July 13th 2017 @ 8:29am
            taylorman said | July 13th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Yes Nick I think its a brand worth pursuing more rather than less. A lot of its I guess how much those four countries can ‘get on’ with eachother, some of the squabbles around the selections of coach, players a little childish in terms of the wider potential.

            The non test cap thing is probably something that needs to be addressed. They should either enable full test cap status for the four sides, the exception being that the Lions dont form part of the rankings.

            But a Lions cap should mean a Scottish, Welsh etc cap because they are representing Scotland, Wales etc within the Lions side.

            Councils idea SANZAR versus the Lions could end every calendar year from now on. Wouldnt that be something to go out on!?

            I think that sort of regular match would adopt an identity of its own and fans just might flock to it as a must do at least once in their lives- a bit like the pilgrimmage to Mecca!

            Time to get a bit of Barry Hearn-esk into this game and push it into the faces of the fans as only he can. πŸ™‚

          • July 13th 2017 @ 7:03pm
            DavSA said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

            The comment was made by a previous Roarer on another article that the late SA rugby Supremo , Louis Luyt said many years ago that if possible the Lions should tour every year or something to that effect . I don’t really agree with him or yourself Nicholas ……I truly think it is the very scarcity of those tours that makes em special.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 3:48pm
          FunBus said | July 13th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

          ‘What still puzzles me is why the NH invest so heavily offshore when every dollar that goes there denies a potential local player or coach. Does reflect how selfish the clubs are if they’re still prepared to buy ready made than invest in its youth.’

          The clubs are incentivised to produce England internationals. However there’s 12 of them (plus a number of the clubs in the league below are professional) and lots of games, so big rosters are the order of the day. Up to now there isn’t much evidence that promising star young players and coaches are being blocked.

          ‘Watching NH sides mostly struggling for almost the entire pro era, and earlier, despite having clearly better resources across the four than NZ has been disappointing to say the least.’

          Not sure I buy this Kiwi lament for ‘the North’ to start producing winning sides. Given some of the epic whining in the Kiwi media and blogs over simply drawing a series against a side they only play once every 12 years, I’m not convinced that the Corinthian spirit of fair competition would throb in the Kiwi breast if they began to lose more regularly. It didn’t seem to after the RWCs between 1991 and 2007, and I’m struggling to remember the ‘isn’t it good for rugby’ articles when England were the number 1 side in the world 2001-2003

          • July 14th 2017 @ 10:43am
            Coconut said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            Because FunBus, it was such a short period of time that no one can easily remember it… although, you had a pretty good kicker as I recall? πŸ™‚

        • Roar Guru

          July 14th 2017 @ 2:10pm
          pformagg said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

          Name one NZ player overseas who would be starting in the current NZ side?

          • July 14th 2017 @ 2:19pm
            Jerry said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

            Nonu & Piutau would be strong possibilities.

      • July 13th 2017 @ 9:57am
        Townsville said | July 13th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Yes a redevelopment for the All Blacks inspired by the Lions is on the cards.
        The blacks will learn how to slow the game down by feigned injuries and slow restarts for set pieces.
        To learn how to yell like poor sportsmen in the lineouts -17,17,17,17- to disrupt the opposition and to take away the lineout gap.
        Play not to lose rather than to seek glorious victory. Settle for second best in a drawn series.
        Develop the game to encourage dour and boring tactics rather than to commit to expanding the frontiers further. Let’s follow
        Rugby league which is dictated by percentages so all teams play the same basic patterns. Understandable by the coaches but boring.
        Like the development of the game in the north dictated by analysts.
        What a shame the Lions settled for a drawn series where their tactics could not overcome the below par performances of New Zealand.
        The rush defences are not new and the garryowens remain a negative blight on the game.
        Northern rugby developments, no thanks.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 1:25pm
          Neil Back said | July 13th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

          Possibly the sourest nonsense I’ve read oh here so far – and that’s a tough league you’re playing in.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 3:23pm
          FunBus said | July 13th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

          ‘The blacks will learn how to slow the game down by feigned injuries…..’

          Can I suggest after Barrett’s two Oscar-winning performances in Test 2 (my favourite was the little look up to the ref before crashing back down to earth for lengthy ‘treatment’) that you quickly gloss over this issue?

          But, you’re right, despite scoring comfortably the best try in the series the Lions should have upped their game so as to score that one extra try which would have meant their tally matched the ‘glorious free-flowing ABs.’

          • July 14th 2017 @ 4:49pm
            Jacko said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            Yeah and that Naholo bloke faked being knocked out eh? You seem to want to hate the ABs a lot…..Is it that your team and any other team cant beat them…Jealosy is a curse so go ahead and make more dribble up to suit whatever agenda suits you …and keep losing

            • July 14th 2017 @ 8:21pm
              Henry honey balls said | July 14th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

              The Naholo KO looked like a freak accident. He wasn’t even hit that hard, no swinging arm. The ABs discipline at the moment is up there with the worst in world rugby.

              AB fans cant complain about Naholo getting knocked out and then back Sam Cane to the hilt for sending Robbie Henshaw off in a stretcher in Dublin after he was knocked out cold.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 11:19pm
          DavSA said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:19pm | ! Report

          Oh please. If any team plays the margins and the rules to the limit it’s the All Black’s. ….to paint them as this bastion against all that is evil on rugby is.
          ….well maybe you are reading too many fairy tales.
          ….I well remember years ago Sean Fitzpatrick diving out of a line out to try and milk a match saving penalty against the Boks. ….Get real.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 6:28am
            taylorman said | July 14th 2017 @ 6:28am | ! Report

            Really? Must be an Auckland thing then.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 7:21am
            Jerry said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:21am | ! Report

            Pretty sure your memory has failed you there, seeing as Fitzpatrick was a hooker, so wouldn’t actually be in a lineout even on opposition throw.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 7:46am
              taylorman said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

              Yes, plus it would be unlikely for Fitzy to turn down another of his legendary two handed takes from the middle of the lineout. πŸ™‚

          • July 14th 2017 @ 4:50pm
            Jacko said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

            What a memory Davsa…wrong but a good effort

      • Roar Guru

        July 13th 2017 @ 11:34am
        Jokerman said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        Thanks, Nic and it was a happy finish for Sam Warburton who really appreciated the achievement he made. It was awesome for him to come back and do it for the Lions. He was always kind with his words.

    • July 13th 2017 @ 6:45am
      ohtani's jacket said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      The Lions were well drilled and well organized. They didn’t kick the ball away aimlessly and gift the All Blacks counter-attacking opportunities. Instead, they kept the ball in hand and looked to offload and keep the ball alive. In defence, they made their first up tackles, which was crucial given how flat the All Blacks tried to play. I suppose their weakness was that they were always chasing the All Blacks from the moment Codie Taylor scored in the opening test. They could never quite assert their dominance through the rolling maul or scrum the way they would have liked to, and while nothing has been said about it, they definitely needed to score a try in order to win the third test. It would have been a disappointment for them that they couldn’t score after doing so well in the first two tests.

      The Irish team that fronted in Chicago was probably a better side than the Lions but they have obviously had more time together. I also thought the All Blacks’ performance in Dublin was notably better than the third test at Eden Park, but they were playing at home and you would be hard pressed to find an All Blacks fan who doesn’t believe that they should have won. It bothers me somewhat that they didn’t play as well as the ’93 decider or the second test in 2005 after the spear tackle controversy. It was an exciting game but not a vintage All Black performance. And the flatness of the draw will linger for quite some time. Super Rugby finals and the Bledisloe Cup are hardly the tonic for a drawn Lions series. I suddenly have a craving for an All Blacks vs. England game at Twickenham. Maybe even a Grand Slam tour.

      Actually, a strong Springboks side might be what’s needed to draw my attention away from the North. This year does have the potential to be the worst since 2009 if the Boks are stronger than us. We’ll have to wait and see.

    • July 13th 2017 @ 6:49am
      BBA said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Well to be fair we are now in a tactics race (which is good for the game) can the AB’s (and other teams) develop and improve their response to the rush defense, can the rush defense evolve and other defensive lines.

      Neither side can stand still.

      The Lions style of play does suit South Africa’s strengths as well so how will they go (assuming they can still manage the minefield of their own internal issues).

    • Roar Guru

      July 13th 2017 @ 9:18am
      Machooka said | July 13th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Fitting and sincere tribute here Joker to what was a tremendous tour by the Lions… well done.

      And not one mention about Michael Cheika!?! πŸ˜‰

      • Roar Guru

        July 13th 2017 @ 11:22am
        Jokerman said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Thanks, Chook! Oh the pain from those last two minutes!!

        Yes, Cheika gets the day off! Everyone has been a bit tough on him too. πŸ˜‰

    • July 13th 2017 @ 11:00am
      Stu B said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      The tour had a much higher rugby value than the two incompetent French referees it was marvellous to see a team stand up to the All Blacks but in the finish the northern instinct prevailed, playing not to lose but they did show the world they are good men on and off the field, congratulation B & I Lions.

      • July 13th 2017 @ 11:32am
        Shop said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        What a gracious comment.

      • July 13th 2017 @ 1:12pm
        Neil Back said | July 13th 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        What does ‘play not to lose’ mean?

        • July 13th 2017 @ 6:10pm
          rebel said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

          State of origin NSW.
          First 120 minutes they played to win.
          Second 120 minutes they played not to lose.
          The latter is more conservative.
          Funnily enough I thought both the ABs and lions played a bit of both at different stages of the series.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 11:27pm
          DavSA said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:27pm | ! Report

          I agree NB …….was StuB and myself watching the same match . Can anyone reasonably think that the Lions were playing …..Not to lose

      • July 13th 2017 @ 3:00pm
        Jake said | July 13th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

        I thought that too – the Lions were playing not to lose, rather than going all out for the win.

        • July 13th 2017 @ 3:35pm
          Neil Back said | July 13th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          Ah brilliant, someone else who can explain what that means maybe?

          • July 13th 2017 @ 4:13pm
            Jake said | July 13th 2017 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

            It means that given a choice of being guaranteed a draw or have a smaller chance of winning, they’ll take the draw.
            Happens in cricket all the time where a team can easily get themselves a draw and do so, rather than taking the risk of going for the win. Got the impression that the Lions were more worried about losing the series than taking a risk and going all out for the win. I think they would have won if they had taken a few more risks, as in kicking for touch and going for a try rather than taking the 3 points from a penalty.

            • July 13th 2017 @ 6:36pm
              Neil Back said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

              That’s the trouble with impressions. They require nothing substantive. As indeed there’s nothing substantive to your impression.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 13th 2017 @ 6:42pm
                piru said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                Actually they chose to take a shot at a 3 pointer late with the game in the balance, rather than risk going for 5 and the lead.

                That’s pretty clear evidence they were more interested in not losing than winning

              • July 13th 2017 @ 11:39pm
                DavSA said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:39pm | ! Report

                I will bet my house that if the situation was reversed the All Black’s would have done exactly the same Piru . Neil Back has simply asked what do those saying …play not to lose ….actually mean …..A rugby answer please …not a sore headed kiwi supporter response

              • July 14th 2017 @ 5:57am
                rebel said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:57am | ! Report

                Pathetic last sentence response to Piru. Basically all you are saying is your mind is made up an no one from a NZ background will convince you. Double standards again.

              • July 13th 2017 @ 9:18pm
                Neil Back said | July 13th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

                Seriously. That’s your evidence. That’s it. Conclusive.

                Beyond funny.

              • July 13th 2017 @ 9:44pm
                aussikiwi said | July 13th 2017 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

                Does your relentness negativity ever cease NB?

              • July 14th 2017 @ 10:45am
                Jake said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

                Bollocks. As Piru said, they chose to take a shot for 3 instead of risking it all and going for the win. A draw was just as good as a win for the lions but not for the All Blacks. The teams had completely different mind sets.

              • July 14th 2017 @ 10:56am
                Neil Back said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                I’ll never stop challenging nonsense if that’s what you mean buddy?

              • July 14th 2017 @ 4:54pm
                Jacko said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

                Niel what is the point of asking a question if you wont listen to the answer?

              • July 14th 2017 @ 6:24pm
                Neil Back said | July 14th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

                I listened and it’s paper thin. One kick for points in a series of three games with time left for other plays anyway. That’s the damming evidence? Tell me there’s something else behind such sweeping statements?

                Of course there isn’t. Don’t confuse not listening with calling out nonsense.

                It’s nonsense.

          • July 13th 2017 @ 4:25pm
            Townsville said | July 13th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

            Neil, I enjoy reading your sarky little comments. Reminds me of my three year old grandson in East London, emotional and funny. Good stuff, keep it up.
            What is being said is that the Lions looked to be aiming for the top of the mountain and not at the sky beyond. Limited vision and muted expectations held them back from fully expressing themselves.
            Imagine if they had the attitude of David Campese, they might lose a few but then again they would probably win a lot more.
            Perhaps the Lions suffer from the 1959 results where the All Blacks won the series with the enormous help of Don Clarke’s goal kicking. Most observers rate those Lions as much better man for man but the All Blacks played ugly to get the results.
            Love your comments all the same, levity is a great thing.
            Seriously!!!!

            • July 13th 2017 @ 4:42pm
              richard said | July 13th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

              I would say the 1959 Lions had the better backline,debatable whether they had the better pack.

            • July 13th 2017 @ 6:34pm
              Neil Back said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

              Sounds like a child prodigy to me.

    • July 13th 2017 @ 11:22am
      Jacko said | July 13th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

      Sorry but it just feels so underwhelming at the moment….I have looked forward to this Lions series for so long and the games just failed to live up to any of the hype….The french hijacking of 6 games on this tour coupled with the great Garces has tainted the game for me and has reduced the matches to a sideline of all the BS that was around the matches rather than the matches themselves. I cant help but feel that the “Rugby needs a Lions win” became the only important part of this tour and I felt that the longer the tour went the more apparent it became that this was not a tour to be won or lost by the players, but rather the officials, both on and off the field. There are still too many questions left unanswered for it to be considered as all being fair and equal, and i cant help but feel that the IRB wanted, and got, exactly what they asked for. I am sick of the rugby being the least important part of post match conversations and Im over the way a French ref ( assistant in match 3) can look at the same set of rules and yet come up with such a different interpretation than the rest of the world and I do-not understand how a assistant ref can overrule a ref, a TMO and another AR.
      i reduced my league watching and following a few years back because I felt that refs decided almost every match…20 dummy half passes would go forward per match yet a ref would decide to rule on 2…and always in 1 teams favor…there would be players within the 10 on almost every play-the ball yet again a ref would rule on 1 or 2 and when a ref would march a team 13 metres for being 10mtrsoffside it all just became too inconsistant for me to continue to follow…

      I have been playing rugby since before I could tie up my boot laces ( still playing over 50s)and have been watching and supporting for just as long, yet this series is the first series ever, where I have got to the end of it and thought that the result was what the IRB wanted, and they got EXACTLY what they wanted by means fair or foul.
      I am happy to accept mistakes from refs and have defended many refs against other accusers in the past yet this series has put a massive dent in my steadfast belief in the integrity of the man in the middle.

      This site has proven to me that the facts are not overly relevant. People support their team and wont accept facts against them and people hate on the team they dont like and again, no amount of facts will change their opinions so i expect nothing different.

      I have lost the love of the game at present but I have no doubt it will again come back to consume me some time in the future….I just doubt it will be the first Bledisloe cup game as we already know who the ref is and I cant be bothered with fabricated decisions…I just hope that NZ rugby is making lots of noise about Garces behind closed doors ( where it should be done) an this does not happen again.

      Well done Jokerman for moving on so quickly but unfortunately Im still a little bit out of love with rugby at the moment.

      • Roar Guru

        July 13th 2017 @ 1:51pm
        Jokerman said | July 13th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

        Hey, Jacko, the two French refs were disastrous for the All Blacks. Jerome Garces almost kicked the All Blacks out of the ’15 RWC. It was Wyne Barnes all over again.

        I understand it’s hard to watch when Garces comes in at the end to try and change the result. The series deserved more than that. He should be held accountable, yet he’s back on duty again.

        It has happened and one has to accept it. like the 2007 RWC where the All Blacks got a poor deal, this too can offer wisdom and strength for the team. The All Blacks knew that Garces would create trouble, and they had to be smarter and better to take him out of the equation. Any game with only a couple of points in it with Garces lingering around instantly put the Lions in a more favorable position. The All Blacks simply had to be placed better at that moment.

        It is unfair that a team has to overcome a ref and prepare for that. Though the third test was refereed pretty fair right up until the 78 mark where Garces left his mark.

        I’m sure the All Blacks will also be trying to resolve their pain, angst about the series, and any outrage they may have towards Garces. But it has to be done. One way to look at it is the All Blacks had to be in a better position at the 78 mark, and the luck that came their way was highly likely to be taken away with two French officials in the piece.

        It will pass, always does. I feel this should build the All Blacks nicely, and they will be favorites to win the RWC ’19.

        Keep the faith, cuz !!

        • Columnist

          July 13th 2017 @ 4:16pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | July 13th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

          Have to remember that the AB’s had every opportunity to put the series to bed in Tests 1 and 2. The pen count over those games was +9 to New Zealand, which is a huge differential in the modern game.

          Yes they had a man (deservedly) sent off, but they had only themselves to blame – not the refs – for not winning both games and going 2-0 up in the series.

          • July 13th 2017 @ 6:48pm
            Jacko said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

            The funny thing is Jokerman that I was at that 2007 game and was surprised to find that the French supporters were as furious with the Ref as I was..They kept telling me ( I think) that its “horrible, just Horrible” ……Maybe they wanted my semi final tickets which I managed to sell…..and then headed off to the Greek Isles for a week instead and that was fantastic therapy…LOL …I have always found that its far easier to accept these sorts of decisions live than when watching at home on TV. Maybe its the atmosphere of the match…..Anyway…such is life…

            • Roar Guru

              July 13th 2017 @ 7:00pm
              Jokerman said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

              Perhaps less internalised. Live, and it’s an outing and celebrated and expressed more. The energy might be less dormant.

          • July 13th 2017 @ 6:54pm
            Jacko said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

            Nick, Im not going to argue the decisions of the ref with you. having the opportunities to win…but not taking them is no reason for a ref to be exonerated from his bad decisions…I dont believe the refs got mucuh wrong with the decisions they made except for two…1 in test 2 and 1 in test 3…But they also Should have made decisions they didnt make and that is where it mostly cost the ABs the wins and the winning of the series.

            • Columnist

              July 13th 2017 @ 9:10pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | July 13th 2017 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

              What you’re saying Jacko is, “If the refs had done their jobs properly New Zealand would have won”.

              I think you’re looking in the wrong place for an explanation, that’s all.

              • July 14th 2017 @ 2:41am
                taylorman said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:41am | ! Report

                Yes I don’t like blaming refs when we lose anymore, mind you, this is from memory the first that has got to that point since 2007, over 120 tests ago so I think we’ve done pretty well since then.

                But it seems to be more of a protective mechanism for getting over the loss.

                I’m over it, refereeing wasn’t great but it’s done. Of the series I think we got the best out of the Lions, and some very inconsistent AB performances.

                Individually I dont see any worlds best players from the Lions but that serves as a positive for them as they clearly gelled as a team, not a common Lions trait here.

                They clearly came to spoil the AB party and did that very well.

              • July 14th 2017 @ 10:44am
                Jacko said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

                Tman yes they did gell as a team and it makes me think that maybe we have seen a future ABs coach at work. After the Aus series 4 years ago no one really rated Gatland and to be honest i was among those. It looks like maybe the guy can get his players together and can come up with stratagey that tested the best…He is certainly doing the complete list of what the NZRU want from a coach. One strenth I saw that few have mentioned is that he turned up to the press conference in a clown Nose and that is certainly a better way of dealing with it than Cheika did.

              • July 14th 2017 @ 4:59pm
                Jacko said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

                nicholas even the wonderful KEARNS admitted that the final penalty should have been given so I do not understand why you, who analysises games second by second cant accept it either. Do you honestly think that the reffing didnt cost NZ the series? Was Naholo knocked out by himself? did the ref play advantage for ALB to score off that final NON PENALTY? seriously? Why the Bias?

      • July 13th 2017 @ 3:04pm
        Jake said | July 13th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

        Sheesh. What an epic whine.

        “I just doubt it will be the first Bledisloe cup game as we already know who the ref is and I cant be bothered with fabricated decisions”

        Yeh right. Fabricated decisions. Does being a professional victim pay well?

        btw, well written Jokerman

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