There has long been a perception and indeed direct allegations that the All Blacks come in for special treatment from match officials.

Turns out that this is one of the times when reality and perception are aligned - sort of.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen thinks so anyway.

He's heard it all before. The All Blacks get way with things no other team does, is the usual line. Referees are intimidated by them say others and just about everyone who is not from New Zealand believes the All Blacks are more likely to get away with foul play than any other nation.


All this has been stoked by the events of the test in Dublin. The insinuation from many Irish is that the All Blacks were lucky to have been shown just two yellow cards and that more than two players should have been cited.

Hansen, who is acutely aware of the indignation emanating from Ireland, is a little puzzled about this view in the wake of a test where his side were penalised 14 times to Ireland's four.

"I read somewhere that referees treat us differently to everyone else," he says. "But we come out higher on the penalty count most weeks so they are probably right but not in the way they think they are.

"A lot of people feel that we get away with stuff from the referees but I totally disagree with that. I think we get our share if not more and I think there is a perception that says look at the All Blacks and not the other team. Sub consciously I'm saying I don't think that is consciously. Look at the last game 14: 4 is not a balanced game is it, it's not reality."

Hansen's point is supported by a few thing. The first is the World Rugby referee's boss Allain Rolland confirmed that Aaron Smith should not have been yellow carded in Dublin.

That was a poor call by referee Jaco Peyper as the ball was out and Smith was onside.

Statistically, the numbers support Hansen, too. On this tour so far, the All Blacks have been penalised 42 times and their opponents 22. That means the All Blacks have transgressed almost double the number of times their opponents have.

It's a stretch on that evidence to say the All Blacks are afforded an easy ride. And the numbers from the Rugby Championship don't make the case any more compelling.

The All Blacks who won all six tests with bonus point victories conceded 59 penalties. In the same six games their opponents were collectively penalised 62 times.

The All Blacks dominated six tests and were barely under any pressure and yet they conceded almost as many penalties as their opponents.

In those same six tests the All Blacks were yellow carded three times, their opponents twice.