New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew has backed the intent behind All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's message to World Rugby about the need for the game's governing body to look at its officiating in tests.

Hansen was frustrated in Dunedin despite watching his side sweep the series against the French 3-0 due to the continuing debate about match officials' decisions due to the inconsistency from one game to the next or even within a game.

The series was marred by contentious decisions by referees - to the point where it was dominating the debate rather than the on-field performances by the players.

Hansen called on World Rugby to take another look at the roles of the referee and the three assistants and to also differentiate between foul play and a lack of intent in incidents or accidents. He pleaded for a common sense approach while also expecting a "slap on the knuckles" for speaking his mind.

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"If there's a pleasing thing for me it's that everything has erred on the side of player safety," Tew said this morning.

"I agree with Steve that the situation is very fluid. We've got bigger, fitter and faster athletes involved with more collisions than ever before and we're going to have to constantly be going back and looking at things.

"I understand the frustrations of some coaches. Steve is not the only one who has had a few words to say. World Rugby, at the rugby committee level, will continue to look at stuff and make changes we think are in the best interests of the game."

Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks runs in to score a try during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and France at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks runs in to score a try during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and France at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was also left frustrated and bewildered after watching his side lose the third and series-deciding test to Ireland in Sydney, a test in which fullback Israel Folau was controversially sinbinned for a mid-air challenge on Peter O'Mahony.

Hansen has said he would prefer the television match official was scrapped in a favour of a challenge system for coaches. It is an approach to World Rugby he put forward about five years ago but it fell on defeat ears, he said.

Tew, speaking to the media after a New Zealand Rugby board meeting, confirmed the test against France in Dunedin bucked the trends at Eden Park and Westpac Stadium by not selling out. Forsyth Barr Stadium was "a few hundred short" but still exceeded budgeted income, he said.

He also insisted that South Africa remained committed to Sanzaar despite speculation they could be set to realign with the Northern Hemisphere.

He said a Sanzaar meeting next week in Singapore would "progress our thinking about what Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship might look like in the future".

"The South Africans have made it clear their priority is Sanzaar still. They used the Pro12 [now Pro14] opportunity to find a home for the two teams they took out of Super Rugby ... but they have made it very clear to us that they want their best teams playing in Super Rugby still."

New Zealand Rugby have also bid for an international women's sevens tournament to sit alongside their existing men's event in Hamilton.

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