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‘Disgraceful decision’: World media reacts to Bledisloe Cup chaos in Melbourne & More Breaking News

 

A “disgraceful decision”.

That’s how Nine commentator Tim Horan described the controversial decision French referee Mathieu Raynal made in the waning moments of Bledisloe I in Melbourne on Thursday night.

It was one of many takes, and more will be dished up, in the aftermath of the All Blacks’ hugely controversial 39-37 win against the Wallabies at Marvel Stadium.

Raynal sure has fired some folk up, including The Times’ Stuart Barnes, who ripped his decision to award the All Blacks a scrum for time-wasting, one which led to Jordie Barrett’s match-winning try after the buzzer.

Here are the hottest takes from the world’s media after the contentious call, one which ensured the Bledisloe Cup remains in the All Blacks’ hands.

Stuart Barnes – The Times

The match in Melbourne between Australia and New Zealand had it all. Thrills, spills, great tries, moments of aberration – but more than anything else, it will be remembered for a decision made by the referee, Mathieu Raynal, that will forever be regarded somewhere between the worst and most bizarre that international rugby has yet to witness. It almost certainly cost Australia a rare win against their great rivals.

If referees were under orders to clamp down on time-wasting in test rugby, the decision by the French official to turn an Australian penalty into a New Zealand scrum – five metres out, 90 seconds from full-time with the All Blacks a few breaths from yet another loss this year – might have gone down in history as one of the bravest ever pieces of officiating.

French referee Mathieu Raynal speaks to the All Blacks and Wallabies during the dramatic Bledisloe Cup test in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

French referee Mathieu Raynal speaks to the All Blacks and Wallabies during the dramatic Bledisloe Cup test in Melbourne on Thursday night.

But there are no such orders. The whistle was a bolt from the blue that saved the All Blacks. Australia were awarded a penalty with 78 minutes and 25 seconds elapsed on the official clock. The referee was clearly heard to say: “You play now – time on.” And, it’s true, Bernard Foley, the Australian fly half, did not obey his summons snappishly.

Foley was doing what any kicker in the world would do, setting himself to make sure he didn’t slice the ball in field and, yes, taking another five or ten seconds up. He wasn’t cynically ending the contest. The 33-year-old had enjoyed a magnificent match. He kicked six out of six goals and was instrumental in two of Australia’s second-half fightback tries. Foley plays his rugby in Japan. This was his first test since representing his country in the 2019 World Cup. He deserved a few deep breaths.

A pause for a final thought.Yet this wasn’t even an obvious example of time-wasting. He had started his kick-clearance routine when the whistle metamorphosed a probable match-sealing kick to touch into a match-losing scrum, with New Zealand set to salvage the game in the final plays.

All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett scores the match-winning try against the Wallabies in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett scores the match-winning try against the Wallabies in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Iain Payten – Sydney Morning Herald

The decision of French referee Mathieu Raynal to punish Australia for time-wasting in the dying stages of the Bledisloe Cup will be debated for decades. The tone will be wildly different in different parts of the world.

In Australia, the debate will be whether the decision was an all-time shocker, or it was simply an absurd howler. Some may even argue it was rotten enough to be a square-up, once-and-for-all, for that old Kiwi go-to, Trevor Chappell’s underarm.

In New Zealand, someone will pop up and point out the Wallabies could have still defended their line with a minute to go and still won the game.

And then, up in the magical pixieland of refereeing rooms and in World Rugby’s smoky cognac lounge, a law book will be proffered and bullet points fired off to prove that Raynal was technically correct to ping Bernard Foley for not kicking the ball “without delay”.

And if you have the time to read all of rugby’s laws, they may even be right. Technically.

But that would be missing the point entirely. The staggering decision of Raynal to impose himself in such a significant manner, at such a significant moment, summed up perfectly the rapidly expanding problem of rugby refereeing in the last few years.

It should not be just be a question of “can I blow my whistle?” but “should I blow it?”

What has gone so horrifically wrong in the halls of power at World Rugby that Raynal felt the compulsion to turn pedantic schoolmaster at that point? What motivated it?

All Blacks Jordie Barrett, Dalton Papali’i and Richie Mo’unga embrace after their last-ditch win over the Wallabies in Melbourne.

Hannah Peters/Getty Images

All Blacks Jordie Barrett, Dalton Papali’i and Richie Mo’unga embrace after their last-ditch win over the Wallabies in Melbourne.

Tim Horan – Nine

It was crazy.

In 20 years of commentating, I thought it was a disgraceful decision by the referee and I thought he cracked under pressure. I reckon you could have another 15 referees, big referees of world rugby, that would have taken that calmly and wouldn’t have got awed by the experience.

Ninety seconds left in the game, and he cracked under pressure in one of the biggest games here in Australia. It was disgraceful decision and world rugby need to look at it.

If that happens in the World Cup semi-final, World Cup final, you never get another game.

Angus Fontaine – The Guardian

The fickle hand of fate had turned on Australia in the cruellest way. A terrible result for rugby. Australia must now march in disbelief to Eden Park, where they have not won since 1986. Australia’s crowd, coach and captains were speechless. But it was bitter defeat.

Despite a season-best performance that was cruelled by an officiating decision that will be debated for decades, Australia now slump to their worst ever world ranking of ninth.

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