It is easier to rant against the ills of the game as a winner, so Steve Hansen’s fulminations against the increasing influence of television producers on major rugby games was cleverly timed.
The All Black coach was alarmed at late referrals by the Welsh referee Nigel Owens to the “video official” Simon McDowell at Twickenham, one of which resulted in the sin-binning of the New Zealand hooker Dane Coles. In another incident, Charlie Faumuina’s second-half try came under scrutiny long after Owens had awarded the score.
“This is starting to annoy me,” Hansen said, not unreasonably. “These repeated showings of incidents on the big screen are having an effect and it’s not in the spirit of our sport. Referees will make mistakes that can lose you a game, but you live with it because you’ll have the rub of the green next time. We have to do something about what’s going on at the moment.”
When Hansen was told of a similar incident in this year’s Premiership final between Saracens and Northampton, he rolled his eyes and said: “Jesus.” He believes one way forward would be to introduce a challenge system where players or coaches could raise an issue not seen by the officials, but is passionately against referees acting on the basis of repeated big-screen replays during breaks in the action.
Stuart Lancaster, the England coach, could rightly feel aggrieved that Owens declined to consult the video official for Aaron Cruden’s try, with replays suggesting he had lost control of the ball. “A lot did go to the video ref after that. We’ll talk about it with the referees’ assessor. We need to look at that decision,” he said.
The England coach has put together a 34-man squad for the meeting with South Africa this weekend. There are concerns over Courtney Lawes, who lasted barely a quarter of the All Blacks game before retiring with concussion, so Leicester forward Graham Kitchener was called in last night.Reuse content