Rugby Championship

All Blacks branded cheats after France card row

2018-06-14 08:15
Sam Cane (Getty)

Wellington - France No 8 Kevin Gourdon called the All Blacks cheats on Thursday and said they were treated leniently by referees after they escaped punishment over a contentious incident in last week's first Test. 

READ: Kiwi scribe details how referee favoured All Blacks at Eden Park

Gourdon's outburst, two days before the second Test in Wellington, follows condemnation of World Rugby's decision not to hand out further punishment over a tackle in which French wing Remy Grosso suffered two facial fractures. 

All Blacks flank Sam Cane was penalised on the field for a high shot on Grosso, while prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi escaped punishment for his role in the head-high collision with World Rugby saying his role fell "just short" of the red card threshold. 

Immediately after the Test, won by New Zealand 52-11, French coach Jacque Brunel described the double hit as "dangerous" and "illegal" but later softened his stance, saying the collision was probably accidental. 

But World Rugby vice-chairperson Agustin Pichot attached the words "should be cited (in) my view" to a tweet showing video of the tackle, which has ended Grosso's tour. 

A former top referee, England's Rob Debney, wrote in The Times that officials' leniency towards the All Blacks "exists on a subconscious level. The accountability for taking a decision against them, the scrutiny it comes under compared with other teams, is incredible." 

Gourdon said the All Blacks tended to get the rub of the green from referees "because they win all their games". 

The All Blacks "cheat, of course, but it's certainly related to the fact they play good rugby... which has a positive effect on the referees", added the flank. 

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster dismissed the cheating allegations, and denied the world champions and number one Test team received any favouritism from officials. 

"I think if you look at the penalty counts (and) yellow cards last year, we were one of the top yellow-carded teams in the world so I'm not sure how this 'soft on us' comes to fruition," he said. 

Foster also reiterated that the All Blacks did not agree with the yellow card handed out to France lock Paul Gabrillagues last week for a tackle on Ryan Crotty. 

"I think we've been pretty open and honest about how we interpreted last week," said Foster. 

"We thought they were a little bit unlucky with their yellow card; it was one of those marginal ones. Was it up there? Yes it was. Was it significant? Probably not." 

Cane's tackle on Grosso was high, for which he was penalised at the time. 

"The question is: was it worthy of a yellow card? And, I guess, between a referee and an independent citing commissioner, they've said no. So we've just got to take the emotion out of it," Foster said. 

Brunel has made five changes for the second Test with Gourdon the only loose forward to survive from the first Test hiding, although he has been moved from the flank to No 8.

Teams:

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett; 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane; 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire; 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock; 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tui'inukuake, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Ngani Laumape

France

15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (captain), 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Kelian Gourdon, 7 Kélian Galletier, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Bernard le Roux, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso

Substitutes: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Maxime Médard

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