2007: Ref's contentious calls leave nation seething

English referee Wayne Barnes sends Luke McAlister to the sin bin as Richie McCaw looks on.
Photo / Getty Images
English referee Wayne Barnes sends Luke McAlister to the sin bin as Richie McCaw looks on. Photo / Getty Images

"I thought the referee actually had a decent game," said IRB referees boss Paddy O'Brien of Wayne Barnes' handling of the infamous quarter-final in Cardiff - O'Brien being the man who waved France past Fiji in 1999.

France's second-half comeback in 2007 was stirring fare for the neutrals, a talent-stacked All Black squad arrived for their first knockout match with key selections still unsettled. From 13-3 up at halftime, they slumped to 20-18. There were three key aspects to the referee's performance which tipped the shaky All Blacks off balance.

First, Barnes ruled that Luke McAlister had blocked a kick-chaser's run and flashed a yellow card. Later he missed a forward pass that led directly to Yannick Jauzion's decisive try.

In the final quarter, Barnes signed off by missing a host of apparent ruck indiscretions by the French, who threw bodies at any part of the breakdown to halt the All Blacks' momentum.

McAlister's card for running shoulder to shoulder with a diving Frenchman was harsh, but he invited the yellow. When the forward pass came, play had broken rapidly upfield, leaving Barnes directly behind the action. Not many refs would spot a short forward pass from behind, but touch judge Jonathan Kaplan was well placed and should have called it.

All Black supporters felt the French infringed at many second-half rucks, but not a single ruck penalty was given against them. The reaction in New Zealand was strong, to put it mildly.

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- NZ Herald

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