2022 Australia vs New Zealand All Blacks - Bledisloe Cup, Game 1

Controversial Refereeing Decision Continues To Dominate Headlines

Controversial Refereeing Decision Continues To Dominate Headlines

The controversial call made by Mathieu Raynal in the final minutes of Australia's heart-breaking loss to New Zealand continues to dominate the headlines.

Sep 20, 2022 by RugbyPass
Controversial Refereeing Decision Continues To Dominate Headlines

The controversial call made by Mathieu Raynal in the final minutes of Australia's heart-breaking loss to New Zealand continues to dominate the headlines.

For much of the game, it looked as though New Zealand was cruising to a second consecutive win in the Rugby Championship, having established a comprehensive lead with a bonus point advantage in Melbourne.

Samisoni Taukei'aho, Richie Mo'unga and Will Jordan all crossed the whitewash early in the second period to give the All Blacks a 21-point cushion heading into the final 20 minutes.

With Australia on the ropes, New Zealand looked settled and composed, orchestrating possession and attacking ball at their own will. 

That dominance soon faded, and the Wallabies began to find their grove, piercing through the black wall with two Andrew Kellaway tries, scored within five minutes of one another. 

The comeback was completed in the 72nd minute, when fly-half Bernard Foley landed a touchline conversion, following Pete Samu's electric finish in the left corner.

With the scores level at 34-34, the hosts extended their advantage when Nic White fired a mammoth penalty, verging on the halfway line, through the posts.

New Zealand, battered but still fighting, responded instantly, pinning Australia deep in their 22. But for all the pressure, the Wallabies stood strong and earnt a pivotal turnover.

It was then that mayhem ensued. 

Foley stepped up to kick the ball into touch but delayed the action and received a warning from the French referee for wasting time.  

Leaked sky cam footage then showed Raynal calling time off to tell Foley to hurry up. He then put time back on before again asking the fly-half to play on.

As Foley continued to run down time, his teammates began screaming and gesticulating, desperate for their 10 to get rid of the ball. And then, just as Foley was about to launch, an impatient Raynal stepped in to give the All Blacks a scrum put-in.

With possession back in its hands, New Zealand did not fluff its lines. The All Blacks secured the ball at the base of the scrum, attacked down the right flank and got their reward when Jordie Barrett scored in the corner to make the final score read 39-37 in their favor.  

In the wake of the result, the controversial refereeing call sparked instant debate between pundits and fans online.

Former England fly-half Andy Goode was at first skeptical about the validity of the call, but after inspecting the sky cam footage, decided Raynal was in the right and had given enough warning before overturning the penalty.

"As a fly-half, I've been warned hundreds of times by referees for taking too long, but I wasn't penalized because I listened and booted the ball into touch. The referee is always right, and play to the whistle are things you learn as a kid, and Foley simply fell foul of that," Goode wrote in a column for RugbyPass.

"It's natural that the amount of time you take to kick to touch is going to come under greater scrutiny in the final moments of a game when you're in the lead, but I've watched the game back, and he did definitely take longer than he had been doing previously."

In agreement was former referee Nigel Owens, who took to Twitter to voice his opinion on the decisions made.

"As so many of you have been in touch to ask. Clear communication and warning to the player to get on with it. A fair and strong refereeing call my Raynal I feel. Learning here is not for the referee, but the players to get on with it when ref asks," he wrote.

The picture surrounding the decision became even more prolific when Australian network Channel 9 released footage of an exchange between Nic White and Raynal after the final whistle, where the referee offers the Wallabies captain an apology.

White was visibly incensed when the call was made and was equally angry come the end of the contest. Raynal, seeing White's frustration, openly attempted to pacify the situation and offer an explanation for the on-field decision he had made.

"Nic I'm sorry, you know exactly what I wanted to do. I told you two times and then you still continued," Raynal said.

Unhappy with the justification offered, White opted to respond curtly and point out the huge ramifications the call would have on Australia's standing in the tournament.

"I understand that, but he [Foley] was just about to kick it in two seconds. Mate that just cost us the Rugby Championship."

Raynal, seeing that Nic was truly enraged, became more defensive as he went on to explain why he made the surprising call, listing out all the warnings he gave before penalizing Foley.

"Can I speak? Can I speak? I told you, you first, because you are the captain. I then told your 10. Then, I am warning him, saying 'if you don't play immediately, I will give a scrum.

"So, is that not fair, what you did at the end? You just ran the time down.

"If you think I am not capable to give a scrum and turnover, you make a mistake. So, now you know it."

In real time it appeared Foley was completely perplexed by the call. In his press conference the day after, the Waratahs talisman outlined his lack of awareness of the referee's instructions.

"There was a bit of confusion just in terms of personnel on the field for us, just trying to get a call, it was pretty loud in the stadium last night," he said. "My conversation with him was that he told me to hurry up but that time was off. He didn't really mention that there was going to be any further action then starting the clock."

The loss was hard to take for Australia and means the team now is 18 years removed from the last time it won the Bledisloe Cup.

Contrastingly, New Zealand sits atop the Rugby Championship with one fixture remaining, but if the All Blacks are to retain their title, they likely will need to beat Australia once again when they face off Sept. 24.  

Written by Stefan Frost