Saturday’s blockbuster Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Hurricanes and the Blues didn’t disappoint, with both teams well and truly alive in the contest until the dying stages.
But that doesn’t mean that the match wasn’t without controversy – but what rugby game is?
Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua scored his second of the night in the 63rd minute, a score which brought his side to within a converted try of the lead.
But trailing 16-21, and with a conversion attempt to come from wide left, every point was going to matter heading into the business end of the match.
Fullback Jordie Barrett stepped up for the conversion, but it was always going to be close.
Straight off the tee, the kick always looked to be heading directly for the right upright. But the ball did appear to curl back at just the right time, and sneak inside for what would’ve been a crucial two-points.
But both touch judges, who were standing under the posts, would disagree with that statement as they didn’t raise their flags to indicate the score. Barrett looked visibly confused by the decision, jumping up and the air after realising the decision that the referees had made.
Speaking on this weeks episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, both James Parsons and Bryn Hall shared players perspectives on the incident.
Former Blues captain Parsons, joked about his potential bias as he shared why he thought the kick should not have counted.
“I think Bryn is probably best to answer this because everybody is going to think I’m biased obviously because it was at a crucial time, [it would’ve been] 21-18, does change things up a little bit,” Parsons said on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “I know the score does blow out to 31-16 and doesn’t read as tight as it was.
“But that was the 67-minute mark, or 66-minute mark, and it does change the tactical thinking and the momentum feeling, and the tension of the game at 21-18 to 21-16.”
Parson’s also put forward a solution to similar kicking related controversies, as he suggested why it potentially should’ve been used in this instance.
“It was clearly outlined at the start where you could challenge and this might be part of making adjustments to make the challenge, because there’s certainly time in that period.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 2, 2021
“With a conversion, Jordie could go up to his captain in Ardie [Savea] and say, ‘mate, that was over, can you challenge it?’ There’s enough time to have a challenge in this instance.
“To me it looked like it went right over the post. Whatever the rule is there, for my understanding if it goes over the post it isn’t a goal.”
Crusaders scrumhalf Bryn Hall echoed the former All Black hooker’s comments regarding the review system, suggesting that it’s something that should be looked into.
“I know there’s guidelines of how it all works, but you think about how when a try is scored they can go back at any part of that sequence and look if there’s anything wrong,” Hall said on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
“I don’t see why it shouldn’t be any different for a penalty goal, where you can’t actually have a look – it only takes 30-seconds to a minute and it’s a pretty big decision in the context of a game.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 2, 2021
“Imagine if that’s a 19-all draw to win a game, and you don’t go upstairs, you don’t have a look at it with something like that.”
Referee Ben O’Keefe commented on the controversial decision on The Breakdown on Monday. Much like what Parsons said, O’Keefe was clearly in support of the decision that had been made on the night.
“If it goes directly over the post, which it did in this situation, then it’s a no conversion,” the referee said.
“We weren’t helped by the camera angles that came through after the game.”
The Jordie Barrett conversion attempt was one of a couple of controversial moments after round one of the new season, which included Joe Moody hitting Highlanders lock Jack Regan with an open-palm.
Round two of Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off on Friday night, with the Chiefs set to play their first match of the season against the Highlanders in Hamilton.
The Crusaders will then be looking to make it two from two in 2021 when they face the Hurricanes in Christchurch this weekend. While it has proven to be a tough place for any Super Rugby team to win over the last few years, the Hurricanes did record an upset 34-32 win there last year.
Listen to the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod below or find it on your preferred streaming service.
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