All Blacks coach Steve Hansen calls for simpler rules to help referees
Last Updated: 10/07/17 3:08pm
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen appealed for rugby's rules to be simplified, saying a referee's wrong call cost the All Blacks a chance to win the deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions.
But Hansen admitted the All Blacks had also failed to make the most of other opportunities to win the third Test in Auckland, which ended in a 15-15 on Saturday to leave the series drawn 1-1.
Immediately after the Test, Hansen had refused to debate the controversial call by French referee Romain Poite in the dying seconds of the game when he awarded the All Blacks a close-range, kickable penalty and then changed his decision to a scrum.
After a night to reflect, Hansen said Poite had been wrong and it was up to the bosses at World Rugby to make it easier to control the game.
"There's always going to be human error, it doesn't matter who it is. But what we've got to do is help them, not bag them," Hansen said.
"That's a World Rugby thing. They lead this game, they run this game and with people within in that we've got to help the referees so it becomes easier and more simple for them to ref the game. It's a really complicated game."
In a climactic finish, with only seconds remaining and the score tied 15-15, the ball went forward from Lions fullback Liam Williams and was played by team-mate Ken Owens who was in an offside position.
All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown pounced on the ball and was heading for the try line when Poite blew his whistle and awarded a penalty for offside.
But after viewing replays and conferring with the other three match officials he changed his mind to say it was an accidental infringement by Owens and the penalty was downgraded to a scrum.
"I think they just overthought it," Hansen said.
"If he'd trusted his instincts and gone with them he would have made the right decision. If he had felt like it was accidental, play on and LB (Lienert-Brown) scores under the posts and we wouldn't be having this conversation.
"But he didn't and then he got caught up in overthinking it and made mistake.
"I bet he's not feeling good about that. He's a good man Romain and he hasn't done it deliberately."
Hansen said the problem lay in the rules of the game allowing multiple interpretations, but while it cost the All Blacks the chance at a match-winning shot at goal it was not the reason they had to settle for a draw.
"It's a game we could have won if we'd taken the opportunities we created," he said.
"We played well enough to win the thing we just didn't win it, we drew it.
"What I don't think we should do though is make this series about the referees, I think that's a separate issue, it's an issue that World Rugby have to take ownership of and try and fix it and make it easier for them.
"This series is about two very good rugby teams coming together and challenging each other in different ways, with different styles and it came out a draw.
"It's a shame we don't have another one next week.