Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

'Look at the stats': Wayne Barnes' verdict on whether Richie McCaw was a serial cheat

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Retired referee Wayne Barnes has offered his perspective on whether former All Black captain Richie McCaw is a “serial cheat” in his autobiography Throwing the Book.


For most of Barnes career the All Blacks were the dominant team in Test rugby, but their winning record with the English whistle-blower was lower.

In the 26 Tests he officiated with New Zealand, they won 65.3 per cent which was below their usual standard at the time. Through the 2010s the All Blacks had a winning rate around 90 per cent.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

For most of that time, Richie McCaw was the man Barnes dealt with as New Zealand’s captain, who played 148 Tests for the All Blacks.

“One captain people imagine must have got up refs’ noses was All Blacks great Richie McCaw, because he was widely accused of being a serial cheat,” Barnes wrote.

“The list of opposition coaches and players who called him a cheat was long, and included France number eight Imanol Harinordoquy, who claimed that McCaw played the whole of the 2011 World Cup final offside.

“But I always thought the argument that McCaw was allowed to get away with murder was lazy.”

Barnes called McCaw a “wily” player where the “cheat” narrative didn’t stack up based on how often McCaw was pinged.

“If you look at the stats, McCaw gave away more penalties than most international back rows, so the argument that referees were keeping a proper eye on him doesn’t stand up,” he wrote.

“Neither does the argument that he intimidated referees, because he hardly spoke.

“So, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but Richie McCaw was fine by me. A good skipper is a wily skipper, and McCaw was as wily as they come.”

McCaw was yellow carded just three times in his career, the last of which was by Barnes in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks captain was sent to the sin bin for a foot trip on a retreating Argentinian player after the whistle during their clash with Los Pumas.



Join free

Beyond 80 | Episode 3

Japan Rugby League One | Bravelupus v Eagles | Full Match Replay

Big Jim Show | Guinness Six Nations | England v Scotland

Vancouver SVNS - Day 2 - Full Replay

Vancouver SVNS - Day 1 - Full Replay

Boks Office | Jesse Kriel reveals the hardest team he had to play at the Rugby World Cup

Big Jim Walks and Talks with Handré Pollard


Trending on RugbyPass


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Rugby 1 hours ago
How Queensland Reds can spark Schmidt's Wallaby revolution

interesting. I did see last year Queensland and Brad Thorn use some bokke moves like the 6-2 bench and a move the bulls did in bringing back the tap and go from 5 out instead of the line out and maul. There can be many errors in a lineout, you loose control esp. if ref calls a borderline not straight, jumping across line, etc etc it is out of your control, then the maul, a few rules can mess you up again in the eyes of a ref, or others, you lose control. At least in a tap and go you control the move and the play, just have to 1. catch the ball and 2 watch the jackling from opposition, 3 watch being held up over try line. WAY to go I reckon. *2024. Tap and go 5 meters out.* The axis is key, Lynagh McDermott (great cricket name) Wilson So Joe Schmidt will be watching and the Pacific Lions coaches are in Melbourne watching, poach city. I think if Q can get the Kiss of life not the Kiss of death they may well unlock that stacked backline. Vunivalu is improving. Kiss (and Brad Davis, Jonathan Fisher, Zane Hilton and Dale Roberson) and the progressive attacking style may work. He loves coaching. No pressure. Hell he knows the Bokke and Ireland, and time with ulster. Based on his league past he will understand how to break this flat line. He is a hands on skill set coach. One thing i am still waiting to see in union is the skill often shown in league, when 5 meters out they can kick into the post get the deflection and wrong foot opposition to score. Good Luck Queensland, hope you do well. They have the Hurricanes next Bula

10 Go to comments
TRENDING Nigel Owens wades into Italy missed kick debate and Danty red card Nigel Owens wades into Italy missed kick debate and Danty red card