No one involved had ever seen a decision like it but New Zealand coach Ian Foster insisted referee Mathieu Raynal got it right when he produced a time wasting call to hand the All Blacks an incredible victory in Melbourne.
The Australians had roared back from 18 points down and led with 90 seconds on the clock when they won a penalty in front of their posts. Bernard Foley delayed his kick and the French ref stunned everyone by blowing a scrum to the All Blacks. From the ensuing play they crossed for the match winning try.
The Australians were devastated but got no sympathy at all from the visitors.
“I thought it was very clear cut,” said Foster. “They were delaying the kick. He said time off. He warned him then he said time off and then he said to speed up then he said time on.
“Then he asked him twice to kick it. I understand there is a contentious nature about it but it was very clear cut from the opposition. They other one that wasn’t clear cut was when [Andrew] Kellaway scored a and the TMO wanted to look at what was a very suspicious forward pass and yet the conversion was allowed to be taken.”
What did we just watch? The Roar Rugby experts Brett McKay, Jim Tucker and Harry Jones try to make sense of it
Foster and lock Sam Whitelock said the Aussies only had themselves to blame.
“I haven’t had that happen to me in a game whether for or against the side I’m playing for,” Whitelock admitted.
Australian captain James Slipper said he had never seen the law invoked in 125 Tests.
“You’ve got to make sure you’ve got a good plan to close out the game whether you’re up by one point or by more. Slips and I have known each other for a long time and he said ”look, we’ve just got to be better than that’ and he’s spot on.
“It’s something that I know that they will review and look at it and they’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Foster added: “Part of your game management is listen to the referee. So when the referee says time on you have to play it.”
Asked if he had ever seen a similar decision, Foster shot back: “I just saw it out there. I heard very clearly what the ref said.
“So I think we’ve just got to be careful. If people think that decided the Test match then you’re going to go through and analyse all the other decisions in the game too. So I thought the ref was very clear about what he did. So whether people agree or disagree, he certainly had a very clear mind about it.”
It is the very point that no one had seen the decision given previously, only for it to have such a staggering impact on an epic Test, that riled Dave Rennie.
“The rule book’s complex, isn’t it,” said Rennie when asked if he knew the rule existed.
“There’s surely something in there somewhere that is never reffed upon. It’s an incredibly disappointing way to finish because down 31-13, down to 13 players, showed a huge amount of character to come back into that game and then get our nose in front. So to lose it, in that fashion, massively disappointing.”
Rennie struggled to understand what he’d witnessed.
“I spoke to Bernard after the game. He was under the impression time was off. The referee had told him to play and at no stage was he told or did he believe he was going to call a scrum from that.
“Most situations the clock is off and the clock stays off, so it sounds like the clock went off and then he started it again. As we know, a team scores a try late and you take your time getting back to halfway and they stop the clock and wait until you kick off.
“The disappointing thing from our point of view is it was a fantastic game of footy and we should be celebrating the game as opposed to talking about a ref decision in the last minute.
“I think you’ve got to have a feel for the game and the situation. And so if you feel a team’s wasting time then stop the clock, and then they kick it out, and then you play the game and the teams decide it. So just a real lack of feel for the situation.”
He said Foley was “bewildered and shocked by the decision.
“Obviously he’s had a great performance and he feels like he’s let people down. He’s gutted.”
Slipper, who suffered a calf injury and is doubtful for the second match in Auckland, described the scene in the Wallabies rooms.
“The boys are just gutted, that’s probably the biggest thing, I don’t think there is much chat going on in there,” Slipper said.
“Im sure we’ll get together as a group after this and we’ll talk about it, but at the moment there’s a lot of silence. I guess the disappointing thing is that there’s a sour taste in our mouth, because it was a good game, it was a cracker, great crowd, right to the wire – I just feel unfulfilled, bit weird.
“I’ve played 120-odd Tests and I’ve never seen it, and it would be interesting if that would be the call 10 minutes into the game, same thing. But at the end of the day he made a call.”
Rugby – The Roar