Former Test referee Jonathan Kaplan says Romain Poite should have penalised Kieran Read before the 'accidental offsides' in Auckland.
In his column for The Telegraph, Kaplan said there were three aspects to the controversial incident that resulted in a drawn third Test and series – Read's challenge on Liam Williams in the air, whether Ken Owens deliberately played the ball in an offside position, and Poite changing his decision to a scrum after he and TMO George Ayoub had agreed it was a penalty.
'In fact, Read’s bump on Williams caused the fumble and everything afterwards. If Romain had picked up on this and awarded the Lions a penalty it would have avoided all the controversy that followed, which is what I would have done.
'But the issue after that was the referee and his TMO then reviewed the offside against Owens, which Romain had given as a penalty to the All Blacks at the time. The TMO in this case was called for to look at a potential “dangerous challenge” by Read, and under protocol it should not have been used to assess the allegation of offside.'
Kaplan then addressed the Owens offside incident.
'Romain would have been thinking of law 11.6, which includes the passage: “When an offside player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a teammate carrying it, the player is accidentally offside.
'Romain ruled this was the case with Owens. However, Owens did lift his arms and did catch the ball, before letting go just as quickly. Therefore it could easily be argued that he knew what he was doing – and this is an argument all of New Zealand will be making this morning.'
Poite then controversially opted to award a scrum to the All Blacks, after he and the TMO had agreed on a penalty.
'This is something I cannot understand and seems completely wrong – it appears ludicrous to change your decision after agreeing it with the TMO,' said Kaplan.
'I would, though, say I have huge sympathy with Romain as this was a high-pressure, volatile situation, and it may be his command of English was not the best at this time.'
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