A reffing disgrace
July 22, 2010
Wayne Barnes: An endangered species? © Getty Images
Alain Rolland kept alive one of the refereeing community's proudest traditions in Wellington on Saturday, inadvertently bringing the spotlight on himself for much of the All Blacks' 31-17 victory over South Africa. The All Blacks' blistering counter-attacking skills won out for purists but Springbok officials and fans were left furious by the sin-binning of Danie Rossouw and the reinforcing of Richie McCaw's reputation as rugby's 'Mr. Teflon'. In our latest Scrum Seven we take a look back at some other officials who endured nights to forget.
Steve Walsh - Waratahs v Brumbies, Super 14, 2010
Dubbed 'Hollywood' by some for his larger-than-life persona, Walsh's career was dogged by controversy long before he became involved in a running spat with the Brumbies during the 2010 Super 14. At the 2003 Rugby World Cup he was suspended for three days following a row with England fitness coach Dave Reddin, while on the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour, Leinster wing Shane Horgan was verbally abused in a midweek match against Taranaki. Walsh later left New Zealand rugby after some high-profile alcohol-related incidents. In 2010, as the Brumbies battled rivals the Waratahs, Walsh controversially chalked off a try in the corner to Adam Ashley-Cooper, having earlier condescendingly dismissed the attention of skipper Stephen Hoiles. Fuel was added to the fire in the aftermath as Walsh was pencilled in to control the Brumbies' next game, against the Reds, only for fly-half Matt Giteau to say, "I don't know if we will turn up." Giteau was fined A$5,000 and Walsh, who sports a prominent tattoo reading, "He who controls himself controls the game", was replaced.
Wayne Barnes - France v New Zealand, Rugby World Cup, 2007
English official Barnes, whose middle-name, contrary to popular belief, is not in fact 'Blindman', became the focus of New Zealand's collective fury in 2007 when two of his decisions in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with France were key in seeing the spoils go to Les Bleus. Barnes yellow-carded Luke McAlister for obstruction in the second-half while letting a raft of French penalties slide before missing a forward pass in the build-up to Yannick Jauzion's winning try. New Zealand supporters, seeing another World Cup slip away, went postal. A mock obituary was placed into Barnes' Wikipedia page and added security was drafted in so that he could work in the technical area at the semi-final between South Africa and Argentina. "You have to look at the ref ... 17 unawarded penalties - that's bullshit," All Black Ali Williams tactfully put it. IRB referees chief Paddy O'Brien, a Kiwi, said, "I would like to think New Zealanders would start to learn to lose well. It is very sad when criticism becomes so personal. But that seems to be the world we live in."
Brian Kinsey - New Zealand v British & Irish Lions, First Test, 1993
The 1993 Lions travelled to New Zealand with hopes of repeating the feats of their 1971 predecessors. Under Ian McGeechan they fell 2-1 thanks in no small part to the first Test performance of Australian official Brian Kinsey. A Frank Bunce try was awarded in contentious circumstances but Kinsey's pièce de résistance came in the dying embers, as the tourists led 18-17. His shrill whistle picked out Dean Richards among a melee of arms on the floor and while Dewi Morris did his best to bore a hole in Kinsey with a stare, Grant Fox slotted the points for the win. The Lions bit back to win the second Test, but fell short in the third.
Chris White - Italy v Wales, Six Nations, 2007
Welsh rugby hit several lows in 2007, beginning with this misunderstanding in Rome. Italy won the game 23-20 after James Hook had kicked a last-gasp penalty to touch, thinking that there was time to take a lineout and potentially score a winning try. Referee Chris White had instructed Hook that there was time, only for the clock to tick over the 80-minute mark as the ball sailed across the line. White was instructed by the fourth official to end the game, doing so as Welsh players pleaded for an explanation. "I have apologised to the Wales coaching and playing staff for the misunderstanding," White said. "I would like to thank them for the good grace with which my apology was accepted."
Christophe Berdos - South Africa v British & Irish Lions, 2009
The most contentious opening 30 seconds of a Test? Schalk Burger's gouge on Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald, punished with a yellow by the official and later a lenient eight-week ban, changed the complexion of this showdown in Pretoria. Berdos, with a recommendation from touch judge Bryce Lawrence that Burger's offence was a yellow at least, went for the minimum sanction when red was called for. Burger returned, with the Lions having powered ahead, to help his side to a superb comeback, winning in the dying seconds thanks to the boot of Morne Steyn. One of the greatest Test matches of them all - but should it have been?
Roger Quittenton - Wales v New Zealand, 1978
Wales' winless streak against the All Blacks dates back to 1953, including this meeting between the sides in Cardiff. All Black lock Andy Haden's theatrical dive from a lineout in the dying seconds, with Wales leading 10-9, has become folklore. Referee Quittenton awarded a penalty, which Brian McKechnie landed to win the game and keep alive a Grand Slam tour, for Geoff Wheel's push on Frank Oliver. Haden may not have been pinged - but Welsh fans didn't forget. "I know that some of the players later regretted it and their part in it," All Black skipper Graham Mourie said. "But it was equally true that in that crucial, unforgiving minute in the searing heat of Cardiff Arms Park the match was won and the tour continued to its climax."
Joel Jutge - Leicester v Munster, Heineken Cup Final, 2002
Leicester's leading lights can rarely be termed as a sentimental bunch, and in 2002 Munster found out first-hand how hard they can be. Leading 15-9, and in touching distance of back-to-back titles, the Tigers defended a Munster scrum deep inside their 22 with moments left. Peter Stringer waited to feed the ball, only to have the ball knocked from his grasp by Leicester flanker Neil Back. The scrum, and the game, was lost. Referee Joel Jutge was in the dark. The look on Stringer's face told the whole story - Back had lived up to his maxim of winning at all costs.