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'Kwagga Smith had hands on the ground': Foster believes final should have ended with penalty to All Blacks

By Ben Smith
Beauden Barrett of New Zealand is challenged by Kwagga Smith of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Departing All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has offered his take on the end of the Rugby World Cup final which saw the Springboks win 12-11 over New Zealand to claim back-to-back crowns.


The All Blacks coaches sought clarity on a number of calls after their review. After receiving private acknowledgement of some errors and an apology from World Rugby, Foster has spent “many nights” waking up thinking about how his side could have scored at least one more point.

His view is that the World Cup final should have ended on a penalty to the All Blacks near halfway for an infringement by flanker Kwagga Smith at a ruck.

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That would have given Jordie Barrett one last chance to nail a long range kick to take the lead after he had missed one earlier in the dying stages.

“You can look at some of the controllables, there was a great Jordie Barrett chip in the first half and Ardie ran onto it, the ball didn’t bounce his way,” Foster said on The Platform podcast.

“We had a couple of goal kicks in that last 20 that didn’t go over.

“I think the World Cup should have finished on a penalty to us, near where Jordie missed his first kick.

“Kwagga Smith clearly had hands on the ground when he won a ball at the breakdown that we didn’t get a penalty for.


“The drama of having a 48 metre penalty to finish a World Cup, that wouldn’t have done anyone’s nerves any good anyway.

“But look, there’s a whole lot of ‘what ifs’, but that’s what it is.”


The All Blacks head coach was still immensely proud of his side after captain Sam Cane was red carded early in the first half.

Down to 14 players for the remainder of the clash, the All Blacks outscored South Africa 8-3 during that time.

Foster credited the adjustments made at half-time with the focus and clarity of the players led to a big second half push.


The final score was just “finals footy” and he looked back to the 2011 Rugby World Cup where the All Blacks ended up on the other side.

“We’ve always said World Cups are unique and you look back at 2011 for example, we won a really tight game against France 8-7,” he recalled.

“People forget about how tight that game was, they just remember the victory.

“There were cries from the French for a penalty in the last part of that game.

“Am I philosophical? I guess I am about it but what I’ve learnt, I’ll never get over it I don’t think, but there is no point us carrying around a lot of anger about it either because it doesn’t change.

“We’ve just got to acknowledge that’s what finals are about, there is a bit of drama on all counts.”




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Eabn 8 hours ago
Open-minded Schmidt takes hands-on approach to Australia challenge

Who cares - boring is good when it comes to Media - they don’t bug you as much. While the focus is on the resurrection of the Wallabies, don’t forget the grass roots - Any opportunity you have to visit, train or promote Rugby down here in Melbourne / Regional is pretty much imperative given the current situation with the Rebels. I’m talking about us grass roots clubs and more so, clubs in the West of Melbourne who are being absolutely smashed by Rugby League and who have been contributing directly to the game down here long before the Rebels emerged and no doubt will do so well after they may be gone. All I have heard is all about the elite level, not the grass roots level so while the talk is about “ The Wallabies” and “Super Rugby Pacific” get back to the roots of Union and include us in your plans. So Phil Waugh and those leaders within RugbyAustralia, it’s on you to ensure the bottom feeders, so to speak, are included in all the talk and the funding if you want Union to regain ground and more respect within the Union and also the broader sporting fraternity. Given you have been in Melbourne a number off times over the last month, extending the courtesy of having a meet and greet with Victorian grass root clubs eluded you for some reason. Do we count or matter in RA’s and yours bigger picture?? Ean Drummond - Club Founder/President - Wyndham City Rhinos RUFC Inc. Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.

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