It's taken 12 years but rugby referee Wayne Barnes believes he's been surpassed as one of the most hated people in New Zealand - by US President Donald Trump.

Barnes became the focal point for a nation's wrath and resentment following his controversial refereeing performance in the 2007 quarter-final when the All Blacks were stunned by France.

In an interview with UK publication Planet Rugby, Barnes said New Zealand seem to be over it now.

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"My stock appears to have risen from being voted after my first World Cup in 2007, officially the third most hated man in New Zealand to getting the World Rugby Referee of the Year Award in 2019, which is quite a contrast," Barnes told Planet Rugby.

"Indeed, at one point, in Cowboy's Bar in Queenstown, I was somewhat disturbed to find a rather compromising effigy of me in the washrooms for disenfranchised fans to take aim at.

US President Donald Trump. Photo / Getty
US President Donald Trump. Photo / Getty

"But I'm reliably informed that in recent times Donald J. Trump has replaced me as the target of Kiwi ire," he added.

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The Englishman sinbinned All Blacks centre Luke McAlister at a crucial moment of the 2007 game and also missed a forward pass in the move that brought France the matchwinning try in their 20-18 triumph.

Earlier this year Barnes opened up about his performance in the 2007 quarter-final admitting missing a French forward pass was the 'most high-profile mistake' of his career.

"I think, perhaps the most high-profile mistake was in 2007 when there was a forward pass in the lead up to a French try against New Zealand, the fallout from that was pretty huge," he told BT Sport while reflecting on his career which ended at the World Cup when he took charge of the bronze final.

"I think I was voted the third most-hated man in New Zealand that year so it was pretty impressive!


"As a referee you never want to be in the headlines and whenever you are, whether you're right or wrong, that's not what you're there for."

Barnes reportedly received personal abuse and even online death threats following the All Blacks' exit.

That was the first time the All Blacks had bowed out at such an early point in the tournament. Since the incident New Zealand have won the last two World Cup titles while Barnes has been rated one of the top referees in the world.

Wayne Barnes during the Rugby World Cup 2019 bronze final between the All Blacks and Wales. Photo / Getty
Wayne Barnes during the Rugby World Cup 2019 bronze final between the All Blacks and Wales. Photo / Getty

"I don't blame Barnes, but I do blame the people who appointed the most inexperienced referee on the roster to a RWC quarterfinal between the hosts and the favourites. I thought both teams deserved a referee with experience," former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said of the 2007 quarter in his book Open Side published in 2012.

"My beef isn't with Barnes so much as with his inexperience. This was Barnes' biggest game by far. On the big stage, an inexperienced referee is likely to become so afraid of making a mistake that he stops making any decisions at all.

"By the end of it, I thought Barnes was frozen with fear and wouldn't make any big calls."

However on the eve of the 2015 World Cup opener against Argentina, which Barnes was the referee, McCaw had only praise for Barnes in reference to the 2007 match.

"From a player's point of view I just knew we hadn't played good enough. I have had quite a lot to do with Wayne since then and he is a top bloke. He does it for the right reasons and that's all you want from the fellow in the middle."

In the BT interview Barnes said one of his career highlights was another All Blacks' defeat - last year's clash with Ireland.

"I was lucky enough to take charge of New Zealand v Ireland over in the Aviva Stadium back in November and that was a special atmosphere that day, there was something very special before the match and obviously during the match. There was a real sense of occasion to that game."