"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.

Video: Great World Cup moments - 2003

How we won it: England - A bloody-minded band of brothers

Setting the scene: Mitchell at the helm as England rises

Tournament action: Four more years - the tournament goes on

Tournament star: Martin Johnson - Hard leader of the pack

ABs memories: 'Danger of World Cups is they mean so much'
Video:Great World Cup moments - 2003

How we won it: South Africa - Python applies squeeze

Setting the scene: Henry gets his (first) go at the title
Ref's contentious calls leave nation seething

Tournament action: Boks hold nerve in a Cup of big upsets

Tournament star: Agustin Pichot - Skipper who shamed IRB

ABs memories: 'It was like slow strangulation'
Looking ahead:High stakes in road to redemption
Hold heads high whatever the result
World Cup highlights
The greatest upsets
The greatest RWC tries