Rugby news 2022: Referee Nigel Owens weighs in on All Blacks vs Wallabies ending
One of the top rugby referees has weighed in on last week’s controversial Bledisloe Cup ending involving French referee Mathieu Raynal.
Nigel Owens, who took charge of the 2015 World Cup final between the All Blacks and Wallabies, took to social media to say that Raynal made the “correct call” when the gave a scrum against the Wallabies due to five-eighth Bernard Foley wasting time with less than two minutes on the clock.
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The All Blacks went on to score a match-winning try from the resulting scrum.
“As so many of you have been in touch to ask. Clear communication and warning to the player to get on with it. A fair and strong refereeing call my Raynal I feel. Learning here is not for the referee, but the players to get on with it when ref asks,” Owens wrote.
“The players actions caused the referee to make a perfectly correct call,” he added in a response to another Twitter user.
“Tough call yes but nonetheless the correct one.”
The Australian is reporting that Rugby Australia have sent a “please explain” to World Rugby over the decision by lodging a formal complaint.
Meanwhile, former Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell has noted the irony in Ian Foster’s response to a controversial late call in the All Blacks win.
In response to the decision, Foster said he believed the right call was made and put the onus on Foley to play to the referee, before doubling down on that notion in an interview with Newstalk ZB.
Mitchell, who made 71 appearances for the Wallabies, told Newstalk ZB’s Elliott Smith it was a shame that the call had overshadowed a quality game of football, and the lack of empathy from the All Blacks head coach was “ironic”.
“It was an odd time to start trying to adjudicate that rule when it had been done throughout the course of the game. A lot of people have talked about never having seen it enforced ever,” he said.
“There’s both sides to it, but I think one thing that’s been lacking which has been disappointing is a bit of empathy for the situation.
“I understand the All Blacks have been under the pump a little bit and haven’t had the results they’ve been used to for quite some time, and they’ve been wanting a bit of empathy from their fans and media. The one time it goes their way and it goes against the Wallabies, there’s a pretty clear lack of empathy from their supporters and even head coach Ian Foster and the rest of them as well.”
There are plenty of examples Mitchell could have been referring to in his comment, though the most publicised came earlier this season when the All Blacks cancelled a media opportunity after their series loss to Ireland to protect Foster. A communications manager made the call, believing the press conference would have seen Foster be a “punching bag for the media, who let’s be clear, wanted blood”.
“Ironic, but it’s rugby and we’ve got to move on,” Mitchell said.
Wasting time is not new in rugby. Teams will often be slow to take a restart, kick to touch or set a lineout in the dying stages of a game if they have a lead, while teams with a numerical disadvantage due to a sin-binning will also dawdle to set pieces and restarts in a bid to chew time off the punishment.
It is, however, unusual to see a referee punish a team for doing so – even if they have been warned.
Speaking to local media, Foley said a warning from the referee had created confusion, as time had been stopped and he believed it would only be restarted when he made the kick to touch. That wasn’t the case, and he was punished.
While the call against the Wallabies was rare, Mitchell credited the All Blacks for taking advantage of it, as they still had to execute to get the ball across the line to steal the victory.
The result saw the All Blacks retain the Bledisloe Cup – with only two tests in the series to be played this year – and takes away from what could have been a huge spectacle at Eden Park next weekend when the sides meet again.
This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission