AUCKLAND, July 8 (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has already accepted the contentious call by referee Romain Poite, who overturned his original decision to award a potential match-winning penalty for the home side against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.
With the scores locked at 15-15 and less than two minutes remaining, Poite initially awarded the All Blacks a penalty when he deemed that replacement hooker Ken Owens was offside when one of his own players dropped a kickoff into his hands.
The penalty, had it stood, would have given Beauden Barrett a routine kick at goal from in front to both win the match and clinch the three-match series.
Poite, however, stopped the clock and decided to discuss the decision with his assistants Jerome Garces and Jaco Peyper, as well as television official George Ayoub.
The discussion ended with the French official deciding that Owens was accidentally offside and awarded an attacking scrum to the All Blacks instead. The Lions were then able to hold off a late New Zealand surge as the series ended 1-1.
”It’s a tough game to ref and we all know what happened and we all know what should have happened,“ Hansen told reporters. ”And at the end of the day, it’s a game and as little kids we’re taught that we have to live with it.
“We are accepting with whatever decisions were made. It’s the decision the ref has made and we will live with it.”
Despite trying to avoid the question throughout his post-match news conference, Hansen compared the decision to the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Scotland.
The Wallabies were awarded a late penalty by referee Craig Joubert when he adjudged the ball to have touched a Scotland player in an offside position, even though replays showed it had ricocheted off Australian scrumhalf Nick Phipps first.
Joubert did not consult the television official and Bernard Foley stepped up to slot the penalty that gave the Wallabies a 35-34 victory and a semi-final spot against Argentina.
”I go back to the World Cup and Scotland missed out because they didn’t use the video,“ Hansen said. ”This time they did and had a powwow.
”What we would’ve liked is play on and we would’ve scored under the posts. I’d have liked that.
”His initial instincts were a penalty. He spoke to his team and one of them said it was accidental.
“We can’t change that. If we scored another try we wouldn’t be having this discussion.” (Editing by John O‘Brien)