Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: AB's manager owns up to 'error' with team sheet

One of the All Blacks' mantras under coach Steve Hansen is the constant need to improve.

It is one which has served them well under his reign, a time in charge which surely reached a peak with the thrilling 38-27 victory over the Springboks at Ellis Park, so it is unlikely experienced manager Darren Shand will be allowed to forget what he called a "genuine mistake" over the team sheet error which had Keven Mealamu listed as the All Blacks' reserve hooker, rather than Dane Coles, who took the field for Andrew Hore just after halftime.

The match officials didn't respond to the error until just after the hour mark, following Beauden Barrett's converted try which allowed the All Blacks to take a 31-27 lead in this rollercoaster of a Rugby Championship test. Hansen called the issue "human error" and praised South Africa captain Jean de Villiers' understanding of it.

"What was great was common sense came through," Hansen said afterwards.

"It doesn't matter if someone has made a mistake like that.

"Jean was brilliant when he was brought into the conversation. He said, 'It doesn't matter. It is what it is.' It's just a human error. A lot of kudos should go to him for the sportsmanship he showed in that moment."

However, there appears to be more to it than that, notwithstanding suggestions on the television broadcast that de Villiers wanted Barrett's try ruled out.

During the impromptu on-field meeting between referee Nigel Owens, the match official who brought the issue to his notice, team captains de Villiers, Richie McCaw and Shand, the All Black manager was heard over the broadcast as saying after confessing his error: "I didn't realise until just now during the game."

Experienced New Zealand commentator Grant Nisbett, who was calling the test for Sky television, however, contradicted that version of events, saying: "I was asked by the South African commentators, was there something wrong with Coles? And I said, 'No, I don't think so,' and they said, 'Well, Mealamu's name is on the team sheet.'

"So I checked, I checked with Darren Shand and I checked with the [All Blacks'] media official as well."

Sanzar didn't want to comment yesterday but the organisation and the International Rugby Board would do well to ensure it doesn't happen again because it begs the question: what is to stop other managers deliberately doing the same thing and claiming it as a mistake?

Strictly speaking, Coles was not authorised to be there. But if the sanctity of the game's laws is to be preserved, team management should be left in no doubt of the importance of getting their typing right.

In this case, however, the stick that Shand will get from players and management alike will probably be punishment enough.

Administrative blunders in sport

Val Adams' non-registration
The New Zealand shot-putter realised she wasn't registered at the London Olympics the night before she was due to compete and received her competition bib just hours before stepping into the stadium. "Mentally it did screw me up a bit," she said, after losing to Nadzeya Ostapchuk. There was a happy ending for Adams, though.

Hurdle-less 100m hurdles
British athlete Jessica Ennis was overjoyed at setting a new personal best at an event in Manchester before the London Olympics, except rather than the regulation 10 hurdles there were only nine. The incident was blamed on "human error". Ennis wasn't impressed, saying: "I feel let down, I'm so, so annoyed."

Wrong flag
Olympic organisers were forced to apologise to the North Korean women's soccer team last year when the South Korean flag was displayed during team announcements before their game against Colombia. The players walked off in protest before being persuaded to play an hour later.

England's 16th man
A mistake by England at the 2003 World Cup, when they inadvertently fielded a 16th man, wing Dan Luger, in the pool game against Samoa, was costly for New Zealand official Steve Walsh. Walsh, the fourth official, was involved in a heated exchange with trainer Dave Reddin, who was accused of pushing Walsh. The Kiwi allegedly responded by squirting water at Reddin, for which he was suspended for three days.

Shirtless wonders
If Darren Shand thinks he has it bad, he can at least console himself with not forgetting the All Blacks' kit. That's what the Millwall football manager did this season for an away match at Sheffield Wednesday. Their away kit, normally all white, had to be replaced with the home side's yellow before the game.

- NZ Herald

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