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Hansen: Sonny Bill didn't know the rules

By Dejan Kalinic
Whoopsie

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen backed Sonny Bill Williams after his error against France, saying his star had no idea about the rule that led to his yellow card.

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New Zealand held off the hosts at the Stade de France to claim a 38-18 win in their Test on Saturday.

But the All Blacks stuttered early in the second half, when Les Bleus were awarded a penalty try after Williams inexplicably deliberately slapped the ball over the dead-ball line.

However, Hansen defended the 32-year-old, saying Williams was unsure about the rule thanks to his experience in rugby league.

“The Sonny one was he doesn’t know the rules because he was playing league and in league you’re allowed to smash it over the dead-ball line,” he told a news conference.

“I got a lesson myself from Fozzie [assistant coach Ian Foster] that once you’ve committed an offence in the goal area then it’s like you’re not there, they make you invisible and they felt the French man was going to catch the ball so it was a try. You can’t do too much about that.

“It was a good lesson for Sonny, he’ll know next time to catch it rather than bat it over the line.”

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The All Blacks had been cruising, taking a 31-5 half-time lead before France rallied to get within 13, but New Zealand closed out their win.

Hansen said his side’s ill-discipline almost proved costly, but he was happy with the way his team dealt with the pressure put on by the hosts.

“I think we lost our discipline a little and as a result of that we allowed the momentum to shift and the French were good enough to take that opportunity and put us under pressure,” he said.

“Having said that, I was very happy with the way we fought our way through it and scored a good try at the end.

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“We scored enough points in the first half to get the job done.”

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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