Calls made for off-field timekeeper

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The Independent Online

The New Zealand Rugby Union is considering introducing an off-field timekeeper in the aftermath of the All Blacks' defeat to Australia with the last kick of their Tri-Nations match.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is considering introducing an off-field timekeeper in the aftermath of the All Blacks' defeat to Australia with the last kick of their Tri-Nations match.

The NZRFU said yesterday it had been considering the matter for some time and might now be prepared to adopt a similar system to that used in Australia. Clocks in the stadium and on television showed that the 40-minute time limit for the second half had been exceeded by more than five minutes when Australia's captain John Eales slotted home a penalty for the 24-23 victory in Wellington on Saturday. Irate fans pelted referee Jonathan Kaplan with plastic bottles as he left the stadium after the game, convinced he had let it run too long.

New International Rugby Board rules, not in force for Saturday's game, allow the use of an off-field timekeeper and Australia have used the system unofficially for more than 15 years. The NZRFU referees' manager, Keith Lawrence, said what still needed to be decided was how many matches might use an independent timer. "Do we just stop at Test matches, do we bring it down into Super 12? Those are the sort of questions we need to determine," he said.

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