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The obscure penalty rule that denied the Wallabies a Bledisloe Cup win over the All Blacks & More Breaking News


As the fallout from Thursday’s controversial Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks continues, players, pundits, and fans alike are asking for an explanation of the rule that paved the way for New Zealand’s game-winning try.

Australia led 37-34 in the 79th minute when they were awarded a penalty through Lalakai Foketi five metres out from their goal line.

That was where things started to get messy.

The key moments

Referee Mathieu Raynal allowed 25 seconds of celebration before he told fly-half Bernard Foley, in his return to the side after a three-year absence, to play on. Foley chose to kick for touch.

After 31 seconds, Raynal whistled time off. Seven seconds later, he started again, telling Foley in the noise of the moment to play on.

The side-on camera showed Foley’s teammates gesturing towards him to hurry up and kick the ball.

Foley looked behind him, seemingly not hearing the restart, but saw the hurried calls from his teammates and shaped to kick.

But before he could, Raynal whistled again — 39 seconds after the penalty had been awarded — and signalled a penalty to New Zealand.

“What’s going on?” the broadcast commentator said as the game paused and both Foley and scrum-half Nic White demanded an explanation from Raynal.

“I said, first, you play a quick play,” Raynal can be heard telling White through his on-pitch microphone.

“Then I time off; I switch off the time.

“I say to your player, ‘I switch on the time and you play immediately.’ And he waits, he waits, he waits.

“So that’s a scrum for the All Blacks.”

The All Blacks won the ball from the ensuing scrum and fed it wide to fullback Jordie Barrett, who scored in the corner for a 39-37 win.

What are the time-wasting rules?

According to law 20, part five of the World Rugby rule book, “a penalty or free kick must be taken without delay”.

However, there is no specific time frame in which a penalty or free kick must be taken.

Therefore, it is at the total discretion of the referee.

So while Raynal was technically correct in his decision, the obscurity and rarity of such decisions being made — and particularly in the final minute of a tense game — is what has sent the rugby community into an uproar.

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