Almost five years after the World Cup meltdown in Cardiff, we read Graham Henry's theory on why the All Blacks failed in that quarter-final.

Despite repeated requests and attempts to elicit his conclusions, which he came to as he prepared his case for coaching re-election, Henry kept his views to himself.

There were the veiled references which made it clear he had little time for the performance of referee Wayne Barnes.

Otherwise nothing, until now. Ask yourself why?


His time with the All Blacks was over or he needed some issue to stir the pot in his latest book?

A bit of both, probably, and it's probably a mistake on both counts.

Henry often talked about continuing or leaving a legacy for the All Blacks. His coaching record was superb but this delayed outburst taints that glow.

If he had a beef about Barnes and his officiating, a complaint he says he wanted to take all the way to the International Rugby Board, he should have had the courage to make that view known in 2007.

By Henry's reckoning there were 40 penalties which went unpunished, while others such as high performance referee Colin Hawke found 16 discrepancies.

Henry had access to some super whizz-bang video with extra angles, statistical breakdowns and individual plays. He would have used slow motion and freeze frames to come up with his figures and assessment.

Barnes and his sidekicks watched the quarter-final in real time and made their judgements.

Some were not too flash, like the missed forward pass that led to a French try.

Look at any Super 15 game this season and you could mark down similar glaring mistakes. Referees do well to see and adjudicate on the majority of errors (their sidekicks are not quite so helpful).

But they are asked to rule on a multi-layered, complicated, high-paced game involving a multitude of judgement calls.

Television cameras blanket grounds and cover all angles and replays, while a match official gets one look at action involving 30 participants.

Rather than dredge up five-year-old bile to help sell this modest read, Henry would have served rugby and himself better if he had used that time to work to simplify the laws and the game's officiating.

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