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Rugby-Referee Poite admits he got late Lions call wrong in 2017

Rugby-Referee Poite admits he got late Lions call wrong in 2017

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - European Rugby Champions Cup - Leicester Tigers v Scarlets - Welford Road Stadium, Leicester, Britain - October 19, 2018 Referee Romain Poite consults the TMO Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

MELBOURNE: Referee Romain Poite has admitted he got a late call wrong that denied New Zealand a chance of a series victory against the British and Irish Lions in 2017 and that he trashed his Eden Park changing room in anger at his mistake.

The three-test series ended 1-1 following a 15-15 draw in the finale at Auckland after Poite, with two minutes left on the clock, over-ruled his own offside decision against Ken Owens.

Replacement hooker Owens had touched a restart knocked on by team mate Liam Williams but after consulting with the television match official, Poite ruled Owens "accidentally offside" and awarded a scrum to the All Blacks, rather than a penalty.

The decision incensed All Blacks fans and four years later, Poite confirmed their frustrations were well-founded.

"Many people called me after the game and told me, 'That was a mistake, but it was justice, the right decision to make'," Frenchman Poite told Rugby Pass.

"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 felt he had let down the entire referee group which included Jerome Garces and Jaco Peyper, saying they had done a "great" job during the series.

"And what will we remember? Just the last decision of the tour," he 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."

Steve Hansen, the All Blacks coach during the tour, said he had no problem with Poite making a mistake but was unhappy with the aftermath.

"My beef is not with any mistake the referee has made, my beef is the way it was handled afterwards. And I just think it is disappointing," he told New Zealand's Stuff media.

"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."

The Lions are set to arrive in South Africa later on Monday for a three-test series against the world champion Springboks.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Source: Reuters


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