Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Referee Wayne Barnes in another forward pass controversy with All Blacks

The All Blacks had themselves another Wayne Barnes forward pass moment, at Eden Park on Saturday night − except this one didn't cost them a test match, let alone a place in the Rugby World Cup semifinals.

Still, it wasn't lost on the New Zealanders that once again English referee Barnes had been involved in a contentious forward pass decision, and, frankly, once again he got it wrong, this time in the opening test of the June series against Warren Gatland's Wales, won 39-21 by the back-to-back world champions.

The victory extended the All Blacks' winning streak over the Welsh to 27 tests and 63 years and their unbeaten run at Eden Park to 36 tests, stretching back to 1994.

Referee Wayne Barnes watches a replay of an All Blacks try on the big screen, before ultimately ruling it out for a forward pass.

On Saturday night, at a sold-out Eden Park for the first of three tests against the touring Welsh, Barnes once again came under the spotlight around a forward pass decision.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read speaks with referee Wayne Barnes after ruling out a try for a forward pass.

This one came when the All Blacks, leading 32-21 with eight minutes remaining, appeared to seal victory when a brilliant Aaron Cruden break put replacement halfback TJ Perenara in for a try.

But as the All Blacks celebrated what they thought was the game-clinching score, Barnes went to his TMO, asking him to look at the transfer from Cruden to Perenara which he suspected may have been forward.

Replays appeared to show Cruden's hands clearly going backwards as he delivered the pass to his supporting halfback, though the ball may have floated forward with the momentum of Cruden.

The laws of the game state that so long as a players hands are directed backwards in making a pass it should not be ruled forward, even if it floats towards the goal-line in transfer.

The TMO, George Ayoub of Australia, delivered that very recommendation to Barnes who did not want to hear it. Instead he declared he had seen a forward pass and over-ruled his TMO's advice, disallowing the try.

In the end it did not matter in the context of the match, with the All Blacks going on to complete a comprehensive comeback from a 21-18 deficit midway through the second half with an 80th-minute try to replacement hooker Nathan Harris.

They ran in three tries over a storming final-quarter finish. Four if you count Perenara's, which Barnes steadfastly would not... After the match the All Blacks were asked about Barnes' contentious decision to rule the forward pass and rub out what looked a legitimate try to Perenara.

"I can't say too much about that, can I?" said New Zealand skipper Kieran Read.

"He was OK. I thought Wayne certainly communicated really well with us. It's one of those decisions he made and we've just got to deal with it."

- Abridged from Marc Hinton,


  1. Explain the meaning of 'controversy' in your own words. Enhance your explanation with an original example.

  2. Do you like rugby? Explain why/why not. Remember to express your opinion using appropriate language.

  3. Why might rugby be so popular in New Zealand?

  4. Look closely at the picture of Kieran Reid speaking with the referee. How might Kieran be feeling? Why do you think he is smiling?

  5. Identify and describe two habits of mind needed to be a successful referee.