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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

The massive Romain Poite call that decided the Lions v All Blacks series

Poite decided that Ken Owens was accidentally offside, and chose not to award a late penalty.


AN ABSORBING LIONS tour came a dramatic end in Auckland this morning as Owen Farrell’s penalty earned the visitors a 15-15 draw against the All Blacks, and ensured that the series finished level at one game apiece.

The nail-biting finish came with its fair share of controversy as referee Romain Poite awarded New Zealand a late penalty and the chance to win the series before changing his mind and awarding a scrum instead.

From Beauden Barrett’s restart, Liam Williams knocked the ball forward in the air and into the path of the retreating Ken Owens, who momentarily caught the ball as he came back from an offside position before dropping it again just as quickly.

Poite immediately signalled for an All Blacks penalty but then decided to consult with TMO George Ayoub.

Here’s a transcript of what happened next:

Poite, watching footage, to assistant Jaco Peyper: He’s in an offside position, 16.
Poite, to TMO: The red touched the ball the second time, and 16 got the ball in front.
TMO: Romain, they’re all the angles.
Poite: Are you happy for the knock on; challenge in the air fair; and penalty kick against 16 red in front?
TMO: Yes, I am.
Poite, to captains: We have a deal. We have a deal about the offside from 16.
Sam Warburton: Black or red?
Poite: 16 red, OK?
Warburton: Oh yeah.
Poite: He didn’t play deliberately the ball, OK? It was an accidental offside.
Kieran Read: No no no, no.
Poite: It was an accidental offside. We go for a scrum for black.
Read: Romain, Romain, in the rules it’s not an accidental offside.
Poite: It was, it was.
Read: No no…
Poite: Because the ball touches him (Liam Williams). We play for a scrum.

Poite appears to confirm with Ayoub that he is correct to award a penalty but, by the time he has called Warburton and Read to him moments later, has already softened his view and downgraded the offence.

(A word is surely due, too, to Warburton who asks ‘Black or red?’ in a masterful job of appearing not to have a clue what is actually going on.)

“It’s a tough game to ref,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said afterwards. “We all know what should have happened but, at the end of the day, it’s a game.

“As little kids we’re taught to accept the good with the bad and that’s what we’re doing here.”

Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

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Niall Kelly

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