In the lottery that is test match refereeing appointments, the All Blacks won't feel like they had the winning ticket on hearing that Jaco Peyper and Romain Poite are going to respectively have charge of the first and third tests against the Lions.

Statistically, those two are great appointments as the All Blacks have never lost a test when either has been the referee. The All Blacks have played 11 tests under Peyper and won 10 and drawn one. Under Poite, they have played six and won the lot.

But beneath the numbers lies a different story. Peyper has twice endured catastrophically bad nights while refereeing the All Blacks. The first was in Sydney 2014 when he penalised the All Blacks 17 times and wrongly in one case - as he would later admit - yellow-carded two players.

The game ended in a draw and with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen saying: "Where do you want me to start [as to what Peyper got wrong]? The free-kicks he felt were wrong. He's not sure why he called pre-engage [in two scrums].


The yellow card was wrong ... the first one [to Wyatt Crockett]. The ball was out. There were quite a few things we had a chat about. I respect the man for his honesty and he's no different to the players and sometimes you have a bad day.

"He just had a bad day at the office. He's put his hand up but I have to emphasise it wasn't just his problem - we had a hell of a bad day ourselves."

The second shocker by Peyper was in Dublin last year where he missed 12 incidents that were put in front of the citing commissioner and probably, under the edict enforced by World Rugby around high tackling, should have red and not yellow-carded Malakai Fekitoa in the second half.

Poite's biggest meltdown came in 2013 at Eden Park when he wrongly yellow-carded South Africa's Bismarck du Plessis for a legal tackle on Dan Carter and then had to send the Springbok hooker off later in the game for a high and dangerous tackle on Liam Messam.

World Rugby issued a statement of apology to the Boks and Poite was removed from active service for 10 months.

That Peyper and Poite have shown themselves to be vulnerable to pressure and prone to collapsing underneath it, doesn't bode well.

The sad truth about modern test football is that referees too often have significant influence on the outcome. The pace and intensity of test football and the ambiguity of the rules has meant that in recent years, a handful of tests have seen the officiating fall under scrutiny.

The Lions series is one of the biggest events in the game. The hype goes off the scale and the pressure through the roof. As much as it is the ultimate test for the players, so too is it the ultimate challenge for referees.

In the last series the Lions played in 2013 against Australia, New Zealand referee Chris Pollock was verbally set upon by Lions coach Warren Gatland after the first test.

There were complaints about the way Pollock handled the breakdown. They affected his mental wellbeing.

"I copped a lot of criticism and it was hard for me at the time to take because I'd never experienced it," Pollock revealed earlier this year. "The one thing you learn is the higher up you go, the mistakes you make get blown up. I had another two weeks in that Lions environment where I was copping grief pretty much anywhere I went."

Jerome Garces of France has the second test in Wellington.