Hansen says enough is enough

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Lynn McConnell     24 Jun 2018     Getty Images

The most obvious concern lay with the adjudication of aerial challenges which saw Frenchman Benjamin Fall red carded in the second Test of the Steinlager Series in Wellington, only for the decision by referee Angus Gardner to be rescinded by the judiciary.


Then on Saturday Australian fullback Israel Folau received a yellow card against Ireland, for a similar challenge.

The issue was something World Rugby was going to have to take ownership of and lead, Hansen said.

He repeated his earlier comment that rugby was fluid and while the laws were black and white there were nevertheless grey areas that couldn't be ruled either black or white.

The situations were about intent, and it was his opinion that it was obvious when someone intended to hurt another player. While there was a move to rid the game of concussions it needed to be acknowledged at the same time that rugby was a contact sport.

"There's going to be the odd accident and we have to accept that," he said.

Rugby was a difficult game to referee and it wasn't only New Zealand and France who had concerns, Michael Cheika had his concerns at the end of the Australia-Ireland series.

"It's got faster, it's really fluid and we haven't really changed the way we ref. We're still doing it the way we used to. We're saying there's one guy controlling the game all the time and he's not because the TMO last night had a lot to say.

"I heard the referee say, 'I saw a clear grounding, I saw a clear grounding' and then the try is not awarded. So who is controlling the game?" Hansen said.

Responsibilities needed to be sorted.

"We get told the referee is the sole judge, but we know he's not because we saw that last night," he said.

There needed to be shared responsibility with assistant referees [touch judges] having more adjudication on issues like offside when there wasn't a gap between the last man's feet and the first defender. If there wasn't a gap then they were offside.

"At the moment there's none of that. Until such time as they get that and share that responsibility and don't dump it all on the guy in the middle we're not going to get any improvement," he said.

Hansen revealed New Zealand had put forward the idea of a challenge to decisions five years ago. It would involve getting rid of the TMO and each team having two challenges, similar to what applies in cricket.

If a challenge was proven correct the successful team kept its remaining challenges but they lost it if their challenge failed. That would ensure coaches were serious in making their challenges.

"Our game has always had wee moments that are 50:50, but you accept that. I don't see any coach challenging the try that Shannon Frizell would have scored [under the goalposts at the bottom of a pile of defenders involving the referee's 'clear grounding' comment]. The one that Damian scored, yes, you could challenge that. Let's see if the referee changes his line? No the referee didn't change his line, the actual player ran into him," he said.

There had been support from some other international coaches for the idea.

Hansen said his comments would probably open a hornet's nest and would result in a slap on the knuckles but it had got to the point where something had to be done because it was starting to affect the game.

And it was affecting the people refereeing. They were doing their best but Hansen said in discussion on Saturday with second Test referee Angus Gardner he had asked what he was supposed to do after the red card was rescinded? Hansen's response was that he should continue to do what he did.

Foul play in the game was most often obvious and warranted a red card but an unintentional incident which resulted in something that wasn't liked shouldn't be allowed to ruin the game with a player sent off.