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'They deserve a bit of a thanks': Officiating criticism-free after ABs loss

By Finn Morton
Brad Weber scores a well-taken - but controversial - try against the Springboks. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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A week after an all-time classic Test match between the All Blacks and Springboks, the two great rivals have once again played out a thriller with the Boks winning 31-29.

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Returning to the Gold Coast, the reigning World Champions reversed last weekend’s result where Jordie Barrett scored a late winner, with Elton Jantjies scoring a penalty from in front after the siren to win the Test.

It was another tense contest between the two sides, with the All Blacks looking to be in control with less than a minute to play.

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Ian Foster and Ardie Savea react to the All Blacks’ defeat to the Springboks.
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Ian Foster and Ardie Savea react to the All Blacks’ defeat to the Springboks.

Captain Ardie Savea broke off the back of the scrum before the All Blacks appeared to settle in attack, before Springboks number eight Dane Vermuelen won a crucial penalty with 13 seconds on the clock after NZ reserve hooker Asafo Aumua sealed off an All Blacks carry.

But despite the Test match being potentially one of the best-ever, some controversial referring decisions were a talking point both during and following the Test match.

Commentating for Stan Sport, former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens called out one contentious decision by referee Matthew Carley, before joking about his “less than objective” point of view.

“No that was never released,” Mehrtens said 38 minutes into the Test. “Beauden Barrett never had the chance to play that from the tackler. That’s a bad call.”

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Then, later in the 55th minute, Springbok’s winger Makazole Mapimpi appeared to be offside from an Elton Jantjies bomb inside the All Blacks half.

After Springboks captain Siya Kolisi went down injured, the former All Blacks and Crusaders pivot once again shared his opinions on the call – or lack thereof.

“But at the risk of sounding like a winging Kiwi, Tim Horan, and this is the end of it…Mapimpi was about five-metres offside from that high ball going up. Fairly clear to everyone,” Mehrtens said on Stan Sport.

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“They’re playing well the Springboks and they’re getting the rub of the green at the moment because they are going forward.”

Two-time Rugby World Cup winning Wallaby Tim Horan agreed with Mehrtens on that particular call: “I was just about to say that Mapimpi, it was probably two or three metres offside, and was effective when the All Blacks spilt the ball.”

The All Blacks also had their share of calls go their way at times, with Brad Weber scoring a try late in the first-half after what looked like a  knock-on from loosehead prop Joe Moody.

The All Blacks did well to defuse a Springboks lineout five metres out from the try-line, with Scott Barrett slapping the ball down to Moody who couldn’t control it. Instead, the ball bounced off him and into Weber, who did well to score.

But in a Test match which is as tight as it was, every decision had an impact on the result. All Blacks captain Ardie Savea told the media that the refereeing “is what it is.”

“I have my own opinions but that’s the refs call at the end of the day,” Savea said. “I wish I could go back and change the calls but the ref made the call and we just had to kind of adapt to it.

“We were well aware of what, around our breakdown and around staying on our feet, not sealing off. But we didn’t execute that skillset in those last couple of minutes so that’s just on us.

“We got to take the referee out of the game but we didn’t tonight. It is what it is and we just got to sort out our breakdown and be smart around that area.”

Coach Ian Foster offered a different perspective on the referring performances by Matthew Carley on Saturday, and Luke Pearce the week before.

For the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks have had Northern Hemisphere referees officiate their Tests.

Foster thanked Carley and Pearce for their efforts, and mentioned how having the two Englishman in charge of tests “will be good for us.”

“Just to add to [what Savea said], a little bit different but it’s actually a thank you to Luke Pearce and Matthew Carley for coming down,” Foster said after the 31-29 loss.

“Having a couple of Northern Hemisphere referees down here has been important for the integrity of the tournament.

“I know it’s their job but they’ve still said yes to the option to come down here and again, they’ve been living in isolation as well.

“I think they deserve a bit of a thanks and I think it’s good for us because we’ve had a year and a half not being ref’d by Northern Hemisphere referees so I think the experience will be good for us.”

The All Blacks are now set to head North to take on teams from the Northern Hemisphere. Their first stop in their end of year tour is the United States in Washington on October 23.

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'They deserve a bit of a thanks': Officiating criticism-free after ABs loss

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