Series-deciding 2017 decision re-visted by veteran rugby writer

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Peter Jackson wrote in The Rugby Paper in response to Poite's comments on Rugby Pass that he got the decision wrong and had wrecked everything in the referees' dressing room after the game.

The scores had just been levelled moments from the end of the game when Lion Owen Farrell landed a penalty goal. But in the play after the restart, Lions hooker Ken Owens had, as Jackson put it, 'been caught red-handed playing the ball in an offside position after Liam Williams' knock-on. An open-and-shut case of a penalty within comfortable striking distance and time rapidly running out.'

"Poite duly did as the law decreed. Clutching at the only straw he could find, [captain] Sam Warburton asked him to give the video another look, a request which in hindsight turned out to be a stroke of captaincy genius.

"The referee's volte face, as inexplicable now as it was then, saved the series for the Lions. More pointedly, it got their substitute hooker off the hook of history," he said.

But after Poite's mea culpa, Jackson said the real issue was not that he had got the decision wrong because everyone gets things wrongs at some time in life.

What was concerning was, "World Rugby knew Poite had got it wrong but tried to tell him that he had also got it right."

Poite said among the many calls he received, he was told several times that it was a mistake, but 'it was justice, the right decision.' He added World Rugby had made those comments to him.

But Jackson argued, "Those attempting to excuse Poite on the spurious grounds that his blunder ensured an honourable draw, however unwittingly, are plain wrong. Anyone subscribing to that view is ignoring the fact that at Eden Park that night justice, as laid down in the law book, was not done.

"Whether the Lions deserved a draw or not is irrelevant…

"If Sir Steve Hansen smelt a rat at the time, he smells a bigger one now.

"The disturbing thing for me," Hansen said, "is the phone call he [Poite] gets from World Rugby saying you made a mistake, but it's justified.

"That's the worrying thing because the rules are the rules. The problem with the game at the moment is that we are trying to justify too many things. If we want the game to be a proper game then you cannot have people from World Rugby making these comments.

"My beef is not with any mistake the referee has made, but the way it was handled. The law book says 'penalty'," Hansen said.


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