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Foster's parting plea on last day as coach

Liam Napier, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 30 Oct 2023, 10:42AM

Foster's parting plea on last day as coach

Liam Napier, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 30 Oct 2023, 10:42AM

By Liam Napier in Paris

In a parting plea to improve the global game All Blacks coach Ian Foster is calling on World Rugby to immediately introduce the 20-minute red card to the test scene.

Sam Cane’s dismissal for a reactionary shoulder-to-the-head tackle on Springboks centre Jesse Kriel cast a dark, frustrating shadow over the World Cup final.

Less than 24 hours after the All Blacks’ one point defeat to the Boks the hurt remained raw as Foster, in his final press conference as head coach, gave his definitive views on the Cane incident – and Siya Kolisi’s head-on-head tackle that left Ardie Savea with a gash on his forehead early in the second half.

While Cane copped a red card in the 28th minute, Kolisi received a yellow only.

“No I don’t,” Foster said when asked if he thought Kolisi should have been upgraded to a red card. “But nor do I think Sam should have been red-carded because I don’t think there was the force they said there was put into it.

“How do you classify someone who rushes in from 10 metres away off a lineout overthrow and has a head collision because he has gone in too high with someone who has reacted with half a metre of space and hasn’t brought that same degree of force to the tackle.

“That’s where it’s hard to get that combination right.”

Television match official intervention blighted the World Cup final. While he defended referee Wayne Barnes, Foster pointed to the Englishman apologising to Savea for incorrectly penalising him for a fair turnover early on in the contest. Rather than that decision being reversed, Boks first five-eighth Handre Pollard slotted three points.

That’s one example of why Foster believes the fairness of when the TMO decides to interject, and the subjective nature of red cards, are the biggest issues facing the global game.

“That’s two World Cup finals in a row – there was one in New Zealand last year we all remember – and now you’ve got this one that has been impacted significantly by red cards.

“A red card with 10 minutes to go is very different from one with 60 minutes to go. The impact on the game is different. The punishment is different. Quite frankly the Southern Hemisphere’s plea with World Rugby to make the red card a 20-minute thing needs to listened to straight away. It has to be. Early in the game the red card has such a dramatic impact versus a late in the game red. I can’t see any logic why it wouldn’t be brought in.”

Asked if he thought World Rugby had any interest in introducing the 20-minute red card that’s been used throughout Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, Foster said: “Like a big container ship it moves slowly but it has to move quickly. To me it’s a pretty obvious one that needs to change.”

Amid a chorus of criticism directed at Barnes in New Zealand, Foster largely deflected the spotlight away from the man in the middle.

All Blacks stand-in captain Ardie Savea speaks with referee Wayne Barnes. Photo / Photosport

All Blacks stand-in captain Ardie Savea speaks with referee Wayne Barnes. Photo / Photosport

“We’ve got to have a perspective about this. It’s a tough game to referee. There’s a lot of pressure on. I didn’t agree with a number of his decisions last night but that doesn’t change. Wayne is a quality person and has been a quality referee for a long, long time.

“The issues in the game, many of them are outside his control. The game has an issue where it seems to come down a little bit to which decisions they want to correct and that’s the sad part of last night.

“That’s not a lot to do with Wayne Barnes and nothing to do with our respect with South Africa. You’ve got to hand it to them they were a hard nut to crack last night. They’re the little parts of the game that need to be addressed because it’s giving space for people to fill with theories and conspiracies.”

In time, Foster hopes Cane can move on from the burden he will carry after saying he would live with the stigma of the first red card in a World Cup final forever.

“You’ll be sitting around a barbecue in six months and someone will ask you what it was like. There will be references to this final and his name will get attached to it. People won’t look beyond that to what goes into leading up to that point. They’ll see that fact. I love him. His involvement with the team has been fantastic and it doesn’t change anything from my eyes or the players’ eyes. We know that’s the nature of the game and we saw some fine lines in that area last night and he was on the wrong side of it.”

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