Romain Poite initially awarded the penalty against Ken Owens (back right), then overruled his own decision and awarded New Zealand a scrum
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Referee Romain Poite has admitted getting a crucial decision wrong late on during the drawn third Test between the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand four years ago.
The vital decision revolved around Lions hooker Ken Owens, who touched the ball in an offside position following a knock-on by full-back Liam Williams from a restart. Had Poite awarded a penalty, then at 15-15 with two minutes left the All Blacks would have had a kick at the posts to potentially win the series 2-1.
Poite initially awarded the penalty against Owens, then overruled his own decision deeming that Owens was in fact "accidentally offside", awarding New Zealand a scrum instead.
The All Blacks were furious with the decision, with the third Test finishing as a 15-15 draw and the Test series tied at 1-1.
Speaking to RugbyPass, Poite revealed that he was angry with himself for botching such a key decision at a pivotal moment in the Test series.
"Many people called me after the game and told me: ‘That was a mistake, but it was justice, the right decision to make’," Poite said.
"Even the World Rugby staff management gave me this call. But I said that I am paid to make a big decision at the end of the game. That was my concern.
"I can promise you when I went back to the changing room, I destroyed everything, because I was angry at myself."
Poite’s frustration with himself stemmed from feeling as though he had let down the refereeing group for the Test series, with Jaco Peyper and Jerome Garces taking charge of the first and second Tests.
Poite explained his decision to both captains: Sam Warburton (L) and Kieran Read (R)
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
"And what will we remember? Just the last decision of the tour," Poite added. "I was angry about myself, because I destroyed the feelings of everyone about the refereeing overall.
"It’s a group, it’s a team, it’s a family. In my view, I did wrong for the others. I support my mistake, I am happy to say I made a mistake because I am human."
In response to Poite’s comments, the former All Blacks head coach, Steve Hansen, told Stuff in New Zealand that he had no issue with Poite making a mistake, but was frustrated with how the decision was handled.
Hansen said: "The disturbing thing for me is the phone call he gets from World Rugby saying, ‘You made a mistake, but it’s justified.’ That’s the worrying thing. Because the rules are the rules."
Non-playing members of Lions squad to be excluded from match venues in South Africa
by Charlie Morgan
New Covid-19 restrictions in South Africa mean the British and Irish Lions face playing matches without even the support of fellow squad members.
The regulations, issued by the South African government on Sunday evening as the country moved into the fourth level of measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, also hint at a bleak final few weeks for players not involved in the Test series against the Springboks.
An amendment to South Africa’s disaster management act states that “sporting activities, including both professional and non-professional matches” remain allowed. However, those events will be “subject to strict adherence” to other conditions.
Crucially, it has been stated that “only the required number of players, match officials, support staff and medical crew required for the sport match” will be allowed at the venue.
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Given most elite teams travel to matches with two official reserves, usually a back and a forward, that may mean that as many as 12 of the 37-man Lions squad will remain at the team hotel for each of the Lions’ eight matches in South Africa.
It is understood that there may be scope to increase that number in case of unforeseen withdrawals, perhaps adding a third hooker and a third scrum-half as well as another forward and another back, subject to discussions with local virologists and infectious disease specialists.
Even so, it is still conceivable that a group of Lions will be confined to hotels for the vast majority of their final three weeks on tour.
A schedule that has been streamlined from 2017, taking away midweek matches either side of the first Test, currently has the Lions playing their last game before the series against South Africa on July 17 against DHL Stormers in Cape Town.
Some players could not be involved in a match between then, or even from the previous match against South Africa A on July 14, and the squad’s planned departure in the second week of August. As things stand, they would then have a quarantine period to negotiate.
Meanwhile, amid reports that the entire Test series could be moved to Cape Town, the schedule has not yet been officially altered.