BRITISH rugby referee Wayne Barnes is well known as the man who helped France defeat the All Blacks in the quarter-final of the 2007 World Cup, failing to spot a blatant forward pass that led to a French try.
France won that game 20-18, a match that was remarkable also for the fact that Barnes did not find a single infringement by the French in the second half worthy of a penalty.
In the World Cup final of 2015, Barnes was a linesman and failed to see that a pass from New Zealand winger Nehe Milner-Skudder to flanker Jerome Kaino was miles off the horizontal; New Zealand benefitted by three points as a result of a penalty shortly thereafter. And when Wales played South Africa in the pool games of that same World Cup, Barnes could not spot a conversion that would have given Wales victory.
On Saturday night, in Auckland, Barnes showed that he still does not know how to judge a forward pass.
Eight minutes from the close of the first New Zealand-Wales Test, with the hosts ahead 32-21, standoff Aaron Cruden threw a clever dummy, made his way through a few Welsh players and then passed to substitute scrum-half T.J. Perenara who ran in to score close to the posts.
Cruden’s pass was kosher; the International Rugby Board rules clearly say that if a player’s hands are pointed away from the horizontal, then the pass is fine, even if the ball does go forward. This rule is put in place because the ball may float forwards due to a wind factor.
Barnes asked the television match official to check a replay and see if the pass was forward. When the TMO, Australia’s George Ayoub, advised Barnes that the pass was fine, Barnes called for another viewing of the action on the big screen.
Ayoub than repeated his verdict: you can award the try. But Barnes chose to overrule Ayoub and disallowed the try, claiming that the pass from Cruden to Perenara was forward.
In the scheme of things, it didn’t really matter because the All Blacks would have won anyway – even if they had not scored a last-minute try through substitute hooker Nathan Harris which made the final score 39-21.
It could have, however, caused some anxiety if a try by Welsh number eight Toby Faletau, soon after Barnes’ crazy decision, had been allowed. Faletau was rightly adjudged to be ahead of a kicker when he chased down the ball and scored. The try was, thus, disallowed.
The question that should be raised is: what is Barnes still doing officiating international rugby matches? He should be sacked right away.