Rugby World Cup: Lay off the referees, pleads All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says there's no point in piling even more pressure on the World Cup referees.


All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says there’s no point in piling even more pressure on the World Cup referees.

Once again Steve Hansen is the voice of reason on an issue threatening to bubble over at this Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks coach drew a firm line in the sand on the matter of his team being tried by social media in the wake of their opening pool clash against South Africa and after naming his team to play Canada in Beppu on Monday he did likewise around the fuss over what forces may be at play guiding referees in this tournament.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika erupted in the wake of his side’s 29-25 defeat to Wales in a Pool D classic at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday night.

He said he was “embarrassed” by some of the decisions made against his side in a clash that went to the wire, alleged his players were “confused” by what was going on, that the “officials are spooked” and that they were “worried about making wrong decisions”.

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A couple of borderline calls went against the Wallabies during the clash, including a controversial penalty against Samu Kerevi for raising his arm in contact while carrying the ball.

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper complained vociferously on the field at the time of the decision which cost the Australians three points at a vital time, claiming it was a “very good carry” and that they had been penalised for “poor tackle technique” by Wales’ Rhys Patchell.

Hansen told Stuff at his Monday team naming press conference that he did not want to wade into the issue when asked what he made of Cheika’s complaints.

“It’s a fairly loaded question,” he opened with. “All I’ll say about the tournament and referees – and I’m not going to say any more – is they’re under a lot of pressure, and I talked before we came to this tournament how pressure can affect rugby teams that are under pressure, and referees are no different.

“So there’s no point everybody climbing into them because it’s not going to do anything other than put them under more pressure and that’s not going to fix the problems.”

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The All Blacks boss says complacency won’t be an issue in a match they are expected to dominate.

Hansen did admit that perhaps the Wallabies had not had the rub of the green in a contest that is likely to see them heading to a quarterfinal matchup against Eddie Jones’ England.

“It was another good game of footy. Australia were a bit unlucky they didn’t get over the top. That’s life in sport. It’s not fair.”

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read, who will lead the team out for a second straight time at the tournament against Canada on Wednesday, said the thrilling contest showed the fine lines that exist at the top end of this event.

“It was a good, tough game,” he said. “The Welsh hung on and the Aussies did well to come back and change momentum. It looked like it was all Wales for a bit there. It was an awesome game to watch, worthy of one of the final games later in the tournament.”


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Hansen also had some lofty praise for events hosts Japan who set the World Cup alight with their stunning upset of Ireland on Saturday.

“You wouldn’t get a better game of rugby,” he said. “They were outstanding. What a major boost for the tournament for the home nation, who no one expected to beat the No 2 ranked side in the world, to come out and take it to them from the word go and put them under pressure and get the result they wanted.”

He said of course they had learned plenty from the contest, given there is a decent chance they could end up playing a quarterfinal against one of those sides.

“They gave us plenty to think about,” he said of the Japanese. “Their speed of ball was great, their line-speed was awesome, they kept coming time after time and showed a lot of courage, a lot of intent and a lot of skills.”

Hansen was reluctant to comment on the prospect of a potential quarterfinal against the hosts but admitted they would have to combat the speed of their game if the matchup eventuated.

“They would come at us 100mph, wanting to turn opportunities to fast ball and we’d have plans to make sure they can’t do that.”

Hansen also reluctantly answered a question on whether Japan coach, and former All Black, Jamie Josph had catapulted into contention for the All Blacks job when he steps aside after this World Cup.

“Jamie is a very good coach, but he didn’t become one overnight just because he coached Japan to beat Ireland. I always find it amusing you beat somebody, then all of a sudden you’re a super coach.

“Is he good enough to be an All Blacks coach? I think he is one day. Am I picking the next coach? No, so there’s not much point even asking me what my opinion is.”


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Publish date : 2019-09-30 04:54:00

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