Rugby World Cup: Refs right to disallow Welsh penalty - Fox

By Troy Rawhiti-Forbes, NZ Herald staff

An All Black legend says officials were correct to disallow points for a Wales penalty goal attempt that could have earned them a rare victory against world champions South Africa last night.

Welsh fullback James Hook looked to have kicked the penalty, which could have ended-up a game-winner for Wales in the Rugby World Cup first round.

Grant Fox, who kicked 118 conversions and 128 penalties for New Zealand during his career, said camera footage appearing to show the ball passing inside the posts may have been deceptive.

"I think the ball started on the upright, moved a little bit right, then came back left after it passed the upright," Fox said.

"They wouldn't have a camera shot that would show it."

The champion first-five, who was a fixture in the black jersey from 1985 to 1993, said the height of the goal posts was an issue.

"They all looked uniform to me for every match [during his career] and I understood that uniformity.

"We have goal posts normally a lot higher, and that would have determined [the kick] really easily."

Fox said there was a touch judge perfectly placed to assess the kick and had points been awarded, questions would have been asked over that as well.

"The nice thing is that Wales hasn't made a big fuss about it," he said.

His remarks came after The International Rugby Board (IRB) backed the refereeing team over the decision.

In a statement the IRB said the Television Match Official was available to review the penalty attempt but the referee team decided a replay wasn't needed.

"Under protocol, the referee may consult the assistant referees or the Television Match Official if he is unsure as to whether a penalty kick, drop goal or conversion has been successful," the statement read.

"During the match in question, the match official team felt at the time that there was no need to consult the TMO following a Wales penalty kick as they were confident that the kick was not successful. Correct protocol was therefore followed.

Hook's penalty attempt in the first half of Wales' 17-16 loss to South Africa looked to hook back over the righthand upright but was judged to have missed by the referee team.

"I thought that kick in the first half might have been pretty close," Wales coach Warren Gatland said. Francois Steyn said at halftime in the tunnel that he thought it went over. Those are the things that happen in sport."

Commentator Keith Quinn was among those who believed it did go over.

"It seemed the ball went in but was not given ... we could say it cost Wales the game," he told Radio New Zealand.

Mr Quinn was not 100 per cent sure the kick could be reviewed afterwards, but Hook did gesture to Barnes that he should go upstairs.

"It's a controversy - there are bound to be many more controversies in the playing of the tournament."

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