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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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Pecos 230 days ago

In a final. discipline is the ONLY CONTROLLABLE that matters. Cherrypicking this, that, & the other, is a zero sum game. Both teams will balance the books on “what ifs”. Who do I blame for this loss? Sam Cane. No doubt.

Chesterfield 231 days ago

The game was lost in the tackle count and failure to set for a drop kick, not the jackle penalty count. The Bokke pack defended their hearts out and Mounga didn’t convert when it counted.
End of.

Joseph 231 days ago

Pathetic. Almost as if Ben Smith believes that if he keeps repeating this (and all the other instances where the ABs were supposedly “short changed”), someone is going to reverse the result and give the World Cup to NZ.

Grow up and move on.

Joseph 231 days ago

Yup, and there was a clear and very obvious knock-on from which Beaudie scored. Nothing in the entire game was more obvious or less controversial. It was almost as if Barnes wanted to compensate for an error he might have made earlier.
No way was that a try.

melt 232 days ago

Good grief move on Ben. Its nearly time for the next RWC. Richie was great. So great that he got away with illegality and bordering on illigality season after season. You might need to consider therapy to help you get past this because clearly you are struggling.

Evka 232 days ago

Wow. can’t believe the guy doesn’t want to let this go, despite a blatant forward pass try. If’s, buts and maybe’s. What is Richie McCall played in the age of the TMO bunker, would New Zealand even have won 3 world cups?

Daniel 232 days ago

It's over. Make peace with it and move on.

Robert 232 days ago

Benjie Smith (the crime solving dog) at least gives me something to read on the ipad while dropping the kids off at the pool. Like back issues of NZ stuff magazine very good for reading on the bogs.

strachan 232 days ago

Willem SAFFA WELS Beker 🤣

Wayne 232 days ago

Refs getting it wrong is part of the game. And the All Blacks kicked two opportunities straight up sh*t creek. So crying foul is doubly disingenuous.

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