Steve Hansen has flagged up the thorny issue of inconsistent refereeing in the build-up to the All Blacks attempt to make history by winning three successive Rugby World Cups in Japan later this year.
Hansen has been perplexed by the lack of penalties against the South African Lions franchise in Super Rugby compared to the New Zealand teams and believes the scrum has become another area of serious concern again.
The All Blacks head coach said: “A lot of the penalties are right, but they’re not consistent on both sides. If that’s a penalty today then it’s a penalty for the whole day not just part of the day. The Lions team in South Africa had been awarded 48 penalties in three games while the opposition sides had only been awarded six. That would mean there wasn’t a lot of consistency being applied.
“I don’t know any team that’s only given six penalties away in three games so I would say there’s not enough consistency in what they’re seeing. I’m not saying the penalties they are giving are not right, I’m saying they’re obviously missing a few.
Continue reading below…
“It’s interesting, sometimes some sides don’t want to engage, they’re scrummaging for penalties and it’s very tough for the referee to actually see who is not engaging and who is pushing over the mark.
“From the naked eye, it is easier to see that I’ve pushed over the mark rather than you not engaging so we’ve got to help them in that area. We’ve had a chat to them about looking at the No.8 and if he is not pushing his team in then they’re not engaging. Most referees have got to use their ARs [assistant referees] to have a look at the whole picture rather than just the front picture.”
The All Blacks’ North Island players have gathered in the Ardmore Marist Rugby Club in south Auckland today, and Hansen added: “Getting through the next few weeks and getting the right team selected and then getting really excited about that challenge of going there and trying to re-capture a trophy that we no longer have.
“We’re going to try to do something that no one else has done before and win three in a row. The primary goal now is to get the right team selected… and get ourselves prepared for a Rugby Championship.
“We don’t own it [World Cup]. It’s not in the cabinet – it’s gone back to World Rugby, so you can’t defend something you don’t own. We have to be hungry to try to get it back and re-capture it.”
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.