Steve Hansen is dismayed that World Rugby never apologised for the refereeing decision that potentially cost the All Blacks a series victory over the British & Irish Lions in 2017.
Hansen said he remained ‘annoyed’ three years after the third Test ended in an anti-climactic 15-15 draw at Eden Park, leaving the high-powered series level at 1-1.
The result swung on a 78th-minute ruling, when the hosts were handed a penalty and opportunity to break the deadlock close to the posts after Lions hooker Ken Owens was deemed offside.
However, referee Romain Poite was convinced by fellow Frenchman and assistant referee Jerome Garces to downgrade the ruling to a scrum.
Hansen, who stood aside after last year’s World Cup, has been subdued in his criticism but revealed in an interview with Sky TV this week that World Rugby should have acknowledged the match officials got it wrong.
‘I have always understood that the referee will make mistakes. So he’s made a mistake and he’s got that wrong,’ Hansen said.
‘The thing that annoyed me most about that incident, and still does to this day, is that we haven’t had an apology from World Rugby.’
New Zealand Rugby requested an explanation from the game’s governing body in the immediate wake of the series but has never received a reply.
Hansen believed World Rugby referee boss Alain Rolland was wrong to never address the issue, something that Poite had done in person.
‘We’ve had conversations with Romain and we just said, “Move on, Romain, you can’t change it, it’s not your problem.” All we wanted was for the head of the rugby referees to say, “Look, sorry we’ve got that wrong.” And then you can turn around and say to the players, “OK boys, the decision was wrong, but we’ve just got to cop it.”‘
Lions coach Warren Gatland recently raised the prospect of a fourth Test being played between the teams next year as a series decider before the combined outfit embarks on its scheduled tour of South Africa.
Photo: Getty Images