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'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.

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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.

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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.

 

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How Queensland Reds can spark Schmidt's Wallaby revolution

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