During the last World Cup rugby tournament in France, Englishman Wayne Barnes ensured that tournament favourites New Zealand would be thrown out at the quarter-final stage by allowing a French try that was scored off a blatant forward pass.
And this wasn’t one of those line-ball decisions – there was a difference of about two metres between the two French players who exchanged the pass.
Now Barnes has done it again, denying Wales a chance of defeating the reigning champions, South Africa, at the 2011 championships.
Wales was denied a converted penalty and the match, a Group D game, was lost by a single point in the end. South Africa came off second best despite the win. (Game highlights here)
Penalties can be subject to video evidence; it all depends on the referee’s decision which is final. Barnes chose not to call in the television match official. He is obviously supremely confident in his own abilities, the mark of many mediocre people.
In a tournament which has seen close matches until now, this would have been the icing on the cake.
Instead, one stupid, incompetent official’s mistake has cost an aspiring team, which played its heart out and deserved to win, a spirit-uplifting victory.
This is especially so in Group D which is the toughest of the four five-nation groups in the tournament. Apart from South Africa and Wales, Fiji and Samoa are also in the group and neither is a pushover.
Referees can spoil a game, no matter what levels of skill the players exhibit. And, horror of horrors, Barnes is down to officiate Wales’ last game on October 2. As this article points out, in the 2007 tournament, Fiji beat Wales 38-34 and kept the Welsh out of the quarter-finals.
Barnes is a terrible advertisement for a game which needs to grow a great deal – it is still only a minor sport. Idiots should not be masqueraded as officials, the sport will suffer.
The International Rugby Board should ensure that Barnes takes no further part in this tournament – that is if they are interested in the growth of the game.