New Zealand
Challenge system 'stalled at IRB'
November 10, 2014
Referee Nigel Owens made a number of controversial decisions in New Zealand's win over England © Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says the concept of being able to challenge a Test referee has stalled in the offices of the International Rugby Board.

Hansen voiced the benefits of introducing such a system after several contentious decisions were made during New Zealand's 24-21 win over England at Twickenham. The methodology would be similar to that used in cricket and tennis, whereby the coach or captain of a side could contest a decision and would lose the chance of another challenge if they got it wrong.

That scenario would be preferable to what Hansen describes as a blight on the modern Test game - the constant replays on big screens which are prompting referees to review decisions. He says home country television producers are repeating incidents that favour their side. At Twickenham, Welsh referee Nigel Owens revisited at least two incidents after the 82,000-strong crowd was whipped into a frenzy by the replays.

Hansen told NZ Newswire on Sunday that he and other leading lights in New Zealand had collaborated three years ago to devise a challenge system that was more in keeping with the spirit of rugby.

"I think it would be a great idea ... but the wheel's turned slowly," he said. "I don't know where it is at this stage, it's with the IRB." Hansen nominated the apparent forward pass which led to France's try when they beat the All Blacks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final as a prime example of what could be achieved.

"That's a clear and obvious case for the coach to say: 'I want to challenge that try'. "There's been too many occasions that have been missed."

Hansen doesn't believe it would slow the game significantly and believes in big Tests it is better to get a key decision right rather than rush it. He wants a challenge law introduced next year, but can't see it happening.

"They (IRB) don't seem to want to bring anything in until after World Cups, which is a shame."

Meanwhile, experienced All Blacks loose forwards Richie McCaw and Kieran Read both backed their coach in voicing dismay at the apparent sway being held by Test broadcasters.

Captain McCaw says their loss to the Springboks in Johannesburg last month only came when English referee Wayne Barnes was alerted by replays to an All Blacks offence in the final minute. "You just hope the guy in the middle isn't being influenced by the crowd noise," he said. Read says it is obvious that the broadcasters are favouring one side only. "There's only one reason why they put the replay up on the big screen I guess - is to make sure the ref sees it."


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