WELLINGTON, New Zealand — There was a sense of nervousness across New Zealand this week. It surrounded the refereeing of Frenchman Jerome Garces but there can be few complaints about his biggest decision on Saturday night: Sonny Bill Williams’ red card.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen described Williams’ 25th-minute shoulder charge on Anthony Watson as one that “could have been a yellow or a red” but he refused to castigate Garces as the world champions fell just short of wrapping up the series against the British & Irish Lions, falling 24-21 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says his players were galvanised after their fair share of criticism in the build up to Saturday’s epic 24-21 win over the All Blacks in Wellington.
The British & Irish Lions produced a stirring finish in Wellington to beat the 14-man All Blacks and ensure their travelling faithful could book flights to Auckland, rather than home.
The British & Irish Lions face a gruelling 10-game tour of New Zealand, including three Tests against the All Blacks. ESPN will be there with full, up-to-date coverage every step of the way.
“I think the impact’s pretty obvious so we don’t even have to talk about that,” Hansen said of losing Williams. “And the red card’s a red card, when the ref says it’s a red card you don’t have any say in it.
“So it will now go to a [judicial] process and will be dealt with accordingly and we’ll accept whatever happens.”
Referee Garces was first alerted to Williams’ tackle by assistant Jaco Peyper before Television Match Official George Ayoub brought the incident up on the big screen for all four officials to review.
But it was the Frenchman who insisted Williams’ offence was worthy of a red card under World Rugby protocols that were introduced at the start of 2017; the former NRL star’s shoulder charge was reckless while contact was made with Watson’s head.
He will now face a judicial hearing in Wellington at 5 p.m. (NZST) on Sunday and is likely to receive a ban that will rule him out of the decisive third Test and beyond.
“It was one of those ones that could have been yellow or red, but he chose it to be a red and you’ve just got to live with it,” Hansen added. “There’s always a process and you’ve just got to go through that process.
“There’s no point whining about it, Sonny didn’t use his arms so he put himself at risk and unfortunately collected young Anthony’s head and put him at risk. So you don’t want that and the referee deemed it a red card.”
Despite having to play with just 14 men for 55 minutes, the All Blacks came agonisingly close to sealing a series victory in Wellington with the Lions only wrestling the lead away from the hosts for the first time with just two minutes to play.
Williams shows his frustration after being shown a red card in Wellington. David Rogers/Getty Images
But Hansen refused to take any comfort in that, offering up a simple synopsis.
“It doesn’t make it any easier to swallow,” he said. “Losing sucks whether you’ve got 15, 25 or two. It sucks.
“But tonight it was our turn to have to take it on the chin, and it’s all very well being good and gracious winners, but we’ve got to do the same when we’re beaten. Tonight we were beaten by a team that played better than we did and we have to accept that.
“We have to go away now as an All Black team and prepare better, work harder and come out to try and win the series next week.”
One man who will be busting to get out there in Auckland in seven days’ time will be back-rower Jerome Kaino. He was the unlucky player to be forced off as the All Blacks shuffled their lineup following Williams’ dismissal, handing a debut to inside back Ngani Laumape.
But Kaino, too, had few complaints about Garces’ call.
“I trust the man in the middle and what he sees,” he said. “And it wasn’t just him, it was upstairs as well. So they had a good look at it and they made the decision.”
Meanwhile, Lions coach Warren Gatland, unsurprisingly, backed Garces over his handling of the situation.
“It’s just one of those things, he’s led in with the shoulder hasn’t he? And the referee’s felt he’s had no choice, so he’s made the decision.”
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19782014/all-blacks-refuse-blame-referee-jerome-garces-sonny-bill-williams-faces-judicial-hearing
Hansen in no mood for red whine
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY