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'It's not Foley's fault': Ex-All Black comes in to bat for Wallaby flyhalf

By Sam Smith
Nic White and referee Mathieu Raynal, Wallabies v New Zealand September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Former All Black wing John Kirwan has come to the defence of Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley after his late game stalling cost his side possession in the dying stages of the first Bledisloe test.

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Speaking on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown, Kirwan was perplexed at the timing of the call but said that Mathieu Raynal had every right to make it.

The issue of time wasting in general was raised as an area that needs to be tackled by the game’s administrators as it has crept into the modern game at the highest level.

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“It’s actually not Foley’s fault, it’s not Raynal’s fault,” Kirwan explained to The Breakdown panel.

“Everyone is time wasting around the world in test match rugby.

“Either props are going down or the game’s being slowed up, encroaching [the gap] at the lineout.

“I’ve just never seen it enforced before.

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“So was the referee right? Yes. Was the decision wrong? If you are a New Zealander, no, if you are Australian, yes.

“The trouble is we can’t leave stuff like time wasting up to interpretation.

“The ref was right but no one has seen that rule for a 150 million years.

“I’ve seen it once in my career and it was for a shot at goal. But we’ve got to start thinking about time wasting as a whole and how do we change that.”

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Jeff Wilson put the onus on World Rugby to decide what kind of game they want to see at the showpiece event next year as frustrations grow around the product that many fans feel is over-officiated.

The ex-All Black admitted that the call against Foley ‘wasn’t appropriate’ in the circumstances where it played a heavy influence on the outcome of the game.

“He had every right to make that decision, I think that in this case it wasn’t appropriate,” Wilson said.

“It may have been the wrong time to make this call. I think this is the opportunity, and we haven’t heard from World Rugby, surprise, surprise, they look at what they want their game to be in 12 months time, at the Rugby World Cup.

“What do they want at the international level? Manipulating the amount of time of ball of play based on what the score is, whether you are down to 14 men, being a bit fatigued so you sit a prop down, all areas that clearly frustrate fans.

“That’s up to World Rugby to decide, the type of rugby they want international rugby to be.”

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