‘Tough task officiating All Blacks’

Jonathan Kaplan has cautioned match officials to be vigilant of 'questionable' All Blacks tactics in the upcoming series against the British & Irish Lions.

The former South African referee, who holds the record for the most Tests officiated (70), has been in control of 18 matches involving the All Blacks, and said they were his toughest tasks.

'New Zealand are masters of the subtle nuances, which often determine the difference between winning and losing,' Kaplan wrote in the Telegraph. 'They often flood the breakdown with numbers when there appears to be a numerical mismatch, some of it not always legal.

'There are not many penalties given for this type of infringement now and the rewards supersede the downside by far. Turnovers are the name of this game, and this tactic provides dividends. If they get quality ball in this situation, they have the game breakers and steppers to kill off any team.

'One questionable tactic which one sees periodically is the killing of quality ball after a linebreak or close to the goal line. Referees often – but not always – pick up the infringement, but then fail to recognise that it is cynical and often designed not to allow the possible try.

'One of the more nefarious tactics used is the clearing of opponents who are not taking part in the ruck or post-tackle situation. It happens consistently every week down south – and with all southern hemisphere international sides, especially New Zealand – and it is a tactic referees are very poor at picking up.

'It appears that there is either a lack of will or lack of quality personnel to deal with these on-field indiscretions. It causes a huge amount of frustration for the non-offending team, who are trying to defend legally and often leads to retaliation as a result. Teams get away with it quite often and hence some big holes are opened up for the attack to exploit.

'There will be lots of pressure on the match officials. The whole country will basically come to a standstill. That is a beautiful thing, but it makes it ultra-intense.'

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Mariette Adams