Floodgates open for All Blacks after French yellow card

Floodgates open for All Blacks after French yellow card
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The final scoreline embellished the overall performance of the All Blacks; even while they scored eight tries to entertain the large crowd at Eden Park, a contentious yellow card for Paul Gabrillagues was the catalyst for the ‘floodgates to open’.

Not that a referee’s call can simply ‘win you the match’ but the call had an influence. The match saw a huge swing in fortunes, from the outset to the final action packed conclusion. Because to open with, many found the French resistance to be more thorough than presumed.

In fact, an intercept to Remy Grosso had shown that this International was not going to begin how the home crowd would have wanted.

But with the call by relatively inexperienced World Rugby referee Luke Pearce, the balance of the contest fell towards the hosts favour. As the weight of possession and territory earned the All Blacks more opportunities, the more adventurous and highly-skillful backline showed great finishing ability, to compliment their forwards earlier graft.

All Blacks 52 (Beauden Barrett, Codie Taylor, Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane 2, Damian McKenzie, Ngani Laumape, Ardie Savea tries; Penalties: Beauden Barrett (2); Conversions: Barrett (3)
France 11 – Try: Remi Grosso; Pens: Morgan Parra (2)

Floodgates open for All Blacks after French yellow card

Don’t misconstrue the outcome. Scoring 50 points is a task that the All Blacks can easily achieve. Unlike most International sides, the All Blacks can ‘close a game’ better than any other. Yet, the home side has often needed one or two games to warm up. While the scoreline on Saturday will demonstrate that the finishing ability of Steve Hansen’s group, was up to their usual standard. It is the momentum change that was influenced by outside forces.

What does often determine scorelines, and at times continuity, has been incidents. So while the opening 50 minutes was an example of engage and counter-punch, it was altered in one teams favour….and that team can really make you pay, with a one player advantage.

With a couple of tries scored during the French players absence, including the example at the one minute mark in the highlights package, is of an All Blacks team on the attack. The pendulum swung heavily.

That yellow card penalty was heavy too, with replays asking why young referee Luke Pearce did not ask for clearer footage from the TMO (television match official). At that time, it was for a tackle which the official believed was around the neck – but he might have judged the tackle as less forceful, on TMO reflection.

TMO use called into question again

Even while head coach Steve Hansen has stated that he thinks the TMO is used ‘too often sometimes’ there are questions over it’s correct use in the All Blacks v Les Bleus match. In as much that, if the question over any ruling is often questionable, then technology is at hand. So as an example, in the Rugby World Cup final, the second half yellow card was qualified [correctly] by the TMO.

Even the big screen at the stadium has become a tool for on-field officials. So arguments are being made as to why [1] that Pearce did not confirm his decision on the Gabrillagues decision. And [2] how discussion has erupted over the ‘much criticised’ later incident with tryscorer Remy Grosso. The below serious head-clash, that has subsequently seen the player invalid from the tour.

With hindsight, the above slow-motion footage, height, geometry and timing of the tackle can all be re-examined. Yet, during the game, it only takes a few seconds to decide. So incidents, mistakes and exaggerated calls can be made. If the call is mistaken, then the transgressed or the transgressor team management, will feel upset.

But too often now, the scrutiny is magnified – social media and instant match reporting is often directed at the failures and mistakes of; primarily players. So too, actions of match officials are now put often under the microscope. This article is reporting the outcome, yet more time can be taken over the action and reaction, post match.

No action taken by World Rugby

Many have demanded that follow-up action was taken against the two players involved, but no citing has been taken. The call from World Rugby has already been taken; in a mindset that the level of any reckless or even an accidental tackle infringement, has not been reached.

But still, how the earlier yellow card influenced the match to that point – this subjective 59th minute incident could easily have done the same; in the visitors favour.

So a call today; be it exact, well intended, mistaken or other, is often going to change the match direction. On this occasion, it directed the All Blacks to hit the overdrive button. For another fixture, the opposition could take that advantage. Whereas what fans demand is a match that see’s the two sides meet on a fair playing field.

Unfortunately for mine, last nights result was influenced by a yellow card – like the second test in the British and Irish Lions match [was influenced by a red card]. Ryan Crotty will not have known if the tackler had infringed, and the tackle might have been viewed otherwise had the match officials discussed it further. As might the Grosso tackle, with more concentration placed on the individual actions rather than the [warranted] medical attention for the player.

Instant decisions, but ones that can be pro-active or reactive however, must be fair.

Not exactly what fans will have wanted, and France now have to react in the second test. React positively, to save their chances of squaring this series at one match a piece. That way, Les Bleus can take the outcome ‘out of the officials influence’.

New Zealand v France – Saturday June 16, Westpac Stadium

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