I spoke to one of New Zealand's top 10 referees who declares Wayne Barnes' performance in the All Blacks-France quarter-final was adequate - adding that he would have sent off two more All Blacks. The referee asked not to be identifed because he was fearful of censure from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union for speaking publicly.
First ruck of the game. Barnes calls for a scrum. Barnes let this ruck run for far too long, with players from both teams off their feet - he should have called for a scrum five seconds earlier. He should have sent a message to the players that he was not going to stand for slow ruck ball. A trend for slow ball is set - he has already started to lose control of the ruck.
French deliberate knockdown, advantage All Blacks - Ali Williams crashes over in the corner. Try is rightly denied by TMO, but Barnes does not return to advantage. He should have come back for a penalty kick in front of the posts for the All Blacks. This is an easy thing to forget when you are getting carried away with a TMO decision; perhaps the TMO or touch judge could have reminded him of the advantage.
All Blacks called for a forward pass on a double-round, while they are on a roll at half-way. This was a flat pass or at best six inches forward.
(see gallery pic one)
The scrum wheels and Barnes calls for it to be reset, with France keeping the feed. Wrong - should have been a penalty against the All Blacks for "whip wheeling". The All Blacks essentially took weight off one side and transferred it to the other, meaning the scrum screwed but looked like it was the French. The All Blacks formerly called this the "quarter-horse". They should have been penalised.
Penalty kick against the All Blacks for killing the ball. This came after three penalties against Richie McCaw for similar offending. There was a trend of killing the ball. I would have given a yellow card to Byron Kelleher here.
Keith Robinson is penalised for being offside at a ruck. Wrong. The French halfback had his hands on the ball and Robinson timed his run perfectly.
France kick first points after Ali Williams is penalised offside in a maul. Wrong. Williams was legally there and had been bound since the start of the maul. Not a penalty.
Barnes was composed and going well.
French have "pillars" standing up offside as guards at the front of the ruck. This is a blight on the game and ruins the pick-and-go "channel one" for the attacking team. Barnes is giving French defence way too much latitude by letting them stand there. I would have awarded a penalty for obstruction.
All Blacks kill French ball during a breakout where the French are heading for the tryline. Rodney So'oialo is lying all over the ball. Dan Carter is so far offside he should have had a dark-blue jumper on. This is professional foul territory and I would have given So'oialo a yellow card. Barnes would have looked dumb doing this because he hadn't given any warnings. He had let the trend flourish.
(see gallery pic 2)
Luke McAlister is sinbinned. Clearly Barnes has got it wrong. You are allowed to shoulder each other. McAlister is bigger and stronger and had some momentum coming across. The French milked it. I would have played on.
(see gallery pic 3)
All Blacks are hard on attack. The French "guard dogs" at the bottom of the ruck are way offside. This should have been a kickable penalty for the All Blacks. This is close to English touch judge Tony Spreadbury's touchline and he should have called offside. Barnes may not have been able to see it. Instead, French are able to stop the All Blacks getting over the gain line and take away the option of going down the blindside.
French try while McAlister is in the sinbin. The try came down to numbers. If Barnes was feeling bad about the sinbin decision, this would have exacerbated it.
All Blacks on attack. Sebastian Chabal kills ball and gives time for French defence to set up. Offside. This should have been a kickable penalty for the All Blacks. Barnes should have penalised and warned Chabal to get off the ball as he was doing to McCaw earlier.
Barnes showing signs of fatigue in this high-pace game.
A ruck is called by Barnes - but Chabal still picks it up in a crucial turnover for France. Hands in the ruck. Again, a kickable penalty.
French put up up-and-under at about halfway, several players offside do not back up to the 10m line before they are put onside and at least two tackle the All Blacks, cutting down the options. Offside. Should have been a penalty for the All Blacks. This is another penalty the touch judges could have helped call.
France get a penalty for Jerry Collins offside at a scrum. Wrong. The scrum had gone 90 degrees and should have been reset. The French No 8 had detached so Collins was legally allowed there; it just looked bad as the scrum had wheeled.
(see gallery pic 4)
French throw forward pass and score. Barnes is coming across the field from the breakdown and behind the play. There are players obstructing his view and you just cannot guess if a pass is forward or not. Touch judge Jonathan Kaplan is only two metres behind with a clear view - surely he could have called this?
(see gallery pic 5)
French openside flanker is offside at ruck, cutting down options. Barnes lets it run - but it should have been a penalty.
French have hands in ruck and are offside. Barnes is on the infield side. These offences should have been clearly obvious to touch judge Spreadbury.
French number 21 and 9 miles offside and spoiling the ball. Barnes again on infield side - touch judges' call.
Advantage All Blacks, McAlister takes dropkick and misses. Barnes does not come back for the advantage - which would have been a kickable penalty. There has been debate among referees as to whether we should come back for the penalty in these situations as many of us believe advantage has actually been used in the drop goal attempt. I agree with this. However, a big game like a World Cup quarter-final is not the time for such "sharp practice". Barnes may also just have forgotten to come back given all the pressure. Both ways he has erred.
Turnover to France, but their players are offside. Should have been a kickable penalty to the All Blacks.
1.Barnes allowed a trend for slow ball to be established. Right from the first ruck, he allowed both sides to slow the ball. He should have called for a scrum five seconds earlier than he did to send a clear message. He was instead running the risk of a player getting frustrated, doing something stupid and effectively incurring a referee's penalty.
Both the All Blacks and the French would have done some analysis, and if it had shown he allowed players off their feet, this first decision would have reinforced that. In a big game like this, experienced sides will jump on that - and they did. Although you do not need to give a warning to send players to the sinbin, it is an established procedure that you do. Barnes didn't, and therefore could not act on key infringements.
2. Barnes came in square. He is known on the circuit as a medium-to-slow ref - "less nimble" to put it politely. He is fit, but lopes rather than sprints. The quickest refs monitor play from the "jockey" position in the pocket behind the ball - which requires pace, anticipation and fitness.
Refs of Barnes' pace play at 45 degrees behind the ruck, which gives some view of both sides. The slower referees come across and watch from just behind the defensive line as play comes towards them - a kind of referees' fat man's alley. But in this game Barnes has been unable to keep at 45 degrees and has kept being caught "square", a no man's land where he is getting a one-dimensional view of the ruck.
He does not have the pace or the anticipation to break out of this and is not working hard enough. Given he has lost control of the ruck, this is allowing the behaviour of both teams to become more ingrained. And as the game wears on, he becomes more tired, the pressure goes on, he is more and more trapped.
3. The touch judges let him down. This is most obvious when Kaplan should have called the French forward pass. There were also repeated failures by Spreadbury to call the French for offside or hands in the ruck on the blindside when the All Blacks were in the French 22 in the second half. The pair could have helped him with a number of other calls during the game.
4. He lost confidence after sending Luke McAlister off. Barnes started to question himself after McAlister went off. This is normal for referees when we make a bad call, and Barnes would have been psychologically affected while McAlister was in the bin. This coincided with the biggest game of his career intensifying. He was already struggling to keep control of the ruck and get himself in an appropriate position to control the game. Fatigue, too, would have started to set in, and he lost the composure he had in the first half.
First half: 9/10 - Second half: 5/10 - Total: 7/10
Barnes had a good first half, but lost composure and control. I would just take him to one side and go through the tape - but I would make the touch judges come too. He has got the goods; he is a people's person and will be a good manager of the game. As for his decisions, I would say they cost New Zealand the win on the scoreboard, but they did not cost us the game itself. We still should have won.