Lions series result could have been much worse

Major sports results can swing on small things, like single refereeing decisions. That was the case in the 3rd and deciding All Blacks-Lions test.

There has been a lot of talk about the referee changing a penalty to a scrum in the last minutes, something he shouldn’t have done, perhaps denying the All Blacks a win (if the penalty shot had been successful).

The referee also denied a possible try by not allowing advantage to be played.

The All Blacks were within a whisker of a win, but a different decision could have easily swung the game and the series against them

The Telegraph: Ref Romain Poite could’ve avoided controversy by awarding Lions a penalty for Kieran Read’s challenge

To my mind there were three elements to the decision. The first was whether Kieran Read’s challenge in the air on Liam Williams was legal, and if a penalty should have been awarded to the Lions.

On the first question I disagree with the outcome that Romain and George reached in deciding that Read’s challenge was legal. I would argue that Williams had already taken the space in the air and that Read could not win possession from where he was, even with an outstretched arm.

That is a decision that could have been legitimately changed by video review. Read was lucky to get away with his challenge.

If the penalty had been reversed the Lions would have then kicked for touch and the line out with their throw in would likely have been in kicking range if the All Blacks had then given away a penalty.

We can lament a controversial decision denying the All Blacks a win, but it also saved them a much greater risk of a game and series loss.

Perhaps we should be thankful for the draw. It’s how things ended up anyway, and is now written into history.



  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 10, 2017

    I think Kaplan had a point but Poite was on the spot and didn’t see Read’s jump as sufficient interference to penalize. Slo Mo can be misleading.

  2. High Flying Duck

     /  July 10, 2017

    They went to the TMO specifically to review the Read jump and rightly decided it was a legitimate challenge.
    Other than Kaplan and Gatland no-one thinks this was an issue – and Kaplan has been talking up the injustices to the Lions all tour without mentioning any issues with calls against the AB’s so is obviously playing to his paymasters.
    The high tackle call against the AB’s to get the Lions to 12 points was also wrong, and the penalty to level up was, while technically correct, shockingly milked. Unfortunately it was still a penalty, but it was enough of a disgrace that they are looking at amending the law around halfbacks deliberately passing into prone players because of it.
    Poite had a reasonable game other than the end – and I have heard he was “mortified” after the game at his error.
    The AB’s should have been 20 up but for their inaccuracies in the first half, but the fact is despite this they still did enough to win but were denied that opportunity due to a dodgy call from last weeks ref into this week’s ref’s ear (Garces talked Poite into the change from the sideline even though he was on the other side of the field).
    Following on from the very odd penalty to lose the game last week due to a player jumping before the tackle it is all a bit ‘Gauling’ if you’ll excuse my terrible French pun.

  3. In the end we didn’t win due to naivety and inexperience in the back line.

    Laumape and Barrett J 1st starts. ALB 10 odd tests so far.

    Barrett B relatively new as starting 1st V and he hasn’t mastered the art of decision making – particularly playing territory and applying pressure via good field kicking which he did start doing more 2nd half.

    We got it tactically wrong at times with push passes when to ground and another phase would have build pressure – especially in the first half . You need cool heads and accuracy to tighten the noose and have control

    I also think Read needs to look at his leadership – he needed to calm the young heads down in the first half and say if the pass is 50/50 hold and recycle – we have the Lions on the rack. And they did have the Lions on the rack for the first 25-30 minutes, the Lions were stretched and let off by our handling errors.

    Hopefully the team grows from this – and reacquires the winning edge that McCaw had. And to be fair it took a major heartbreak in 2007 to really bring McCaw to the upper level of leadership, ruthless analysis and decision making on the field under pressure.

    The refereeing was poor – in fact shockingly so at times. But the games got away due to our teams decision making and skill execution – not the refs stealing the games away..

  4. NOEL

     /  July 10, 2017

    As I Said before time for the sideline assistant referees to be returned to touch judges only.
    Every scrums the Lions didnt get saw the half backs raising arms and pleading an infringement with the assistant referees. I would allow their interference for a severe card infringement but to be able to influence an offside decision is ridiculous.

  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  July 10, 2017

    I didn’t watch the games, of course, but was pleased with the result-something for everyone.

    Play up, play up, and play the game.

    For when the One Great Scorer comes/To write against your name/He marks-not that you won or lost-/But how you played the game.

    It’s nice that the news hasn’t had endless post-mortems, boring everyone who’s not a rugby fan to death.