This refereeing madness has to stop before test rugby sees its credibility, or what's left of it, disappear as quickly as the semblance of a second test contest did.

It was all France in the first 10 minutes. They looked eager, sharp, a bit like France of old and then with one unfathomably bad decision by referee Angus Gardner, the game was ruined.

He took an age, reviewed the footage over and over and then revealed that he was the only human on the planet to have seen a red card offence.

It was an incredible decision that left the French rightly stunned. Rarely if ever has an international side been so badly shafted as they have been in this series.


Their treatment has been farcically bad. A wrongly shown yellow card cost them the game last week and then a ludicrously harsh red cost them in Wellington.

The aptly named Benjamin Fall [Guy] was sent off for clipping Beauden Barrett in the air. The French fullback did the crime, but it wasn't an active challenge.

He got himself too close to Barrett when he was chasing the ball in the air, pulled out of the contest but was too close when he did so and Barrett fell over him. Yellow card and a warning to be more careful more next time would have sufficed.

It was passive and accidental and while Barrett was tipped past the horizontal and landed badly, that hardly served as justification for the red card the way Gardner said.

And that was that – 11 minutes gone and contest over. With all due respect to the French, as well as they played in the opening 10 minutes, they were never going to beat the All Blacks with 14 men.

Even if they could manage to harness the rage they must have been feeling at the injustice of their predicament, they were never going to be able to stop an All Blacks team that could create space in a phone box.

And on the subject of rage, the French should indeed be angry and looking for answers as to how they have been so appallingly treated by the officials in this series.

The irony isn't lost that one of the most disciplined French teams of the modern era has picked up a yellow and red card in this series, whereas teams of old indulged in near open warfare and referees barely noticed.

The raw statistics will give the impression that France were a dirty side and yet nothing could be further from the truth.

And sadly for them the results in the first two tests will give the impression they weren't a particularly good side either and again, that would be unfair.

The other victim of this major refereeing blunder were the people of Wellington who were denied the chance to see the contest they wanted.

The game never got going after Fall had been sent off. The All Blacks never found their cohesion or flow, but it didn't matter too much because they had the get out clause of a man extra.

That hid the fact that they didn't play particularly well. They didn't hold the ball and coughed up way too much in contact.

They didn't win the physical battle in the forwards. Not comprehensively anyway and they didn't transition the attack from forwards to backs with the accuracy and certainty they needed.

Both All Blacks halfbacks had a night they would rather forget, firing passes to no one and anywhere.

They were too often outplayed at the breakdown and there was just a touch of wildness about some of the passing in the backs where invariably the handling wasn't sharp enough.

They didn't nail it defensively either as too many first time tackles were missed.

As the inevitable fatigue hit the French the picture changed a little and the All Blacks suddenly had space and time to do their thing and build their confidence. But they still couldn't put it all together. They still couldn't hold the ball, make their passes stick or run the right lines.

Maybe next week the French won't be sawn off at the knees by the referee and they can have an 80-minute crack at a team they will fancy they can some serious problems, especially after they finished by scoring the best try of the night.

New Zealand 26 (J. Moody, B. Smith, J. Barrett (2) tries; D. McKenzie 3 cons)
France 13 (C. Gomes Sa try; J. Plisson con, M. Parra 2 pens)