Steve Hansen called on France to stop “clutching at straws” after Les Bleus coach Jacques Brunel expressed frustration at another refereeing controversy in their series finale with New Zealand.
The All Blacks completed a series whitewash in Dunedin as they ran out 49-14 winners, though once again France appeared to have reason to be aggrieved.
After seeing a yellow card for Paul Gabrillagues turn the first Test in the All Blacks’ favour, the second Test was then marred by a contentious Benjamin Fall red card, which was later rescinded.
And a further source of French irritation came in the finale, with Damian McKenzie going over to give New Zealand a 21-14 half-time lead at the break, crossing from the scrum as France scrum-half Baptiste Serin was clearly impeded from attempting to tackle him by referee John Lacey.
From there New Zealand dominated matters in the second half and Brunel said: “To me, it seems quite clear, and quite straight forward, that if a player or a referee should obstruct the play, and it disadvantages one team or the other, then it needs to be accounted for and dealt with. It seemed clear in that situation.
“Really at half-time, it’s possible that the score could have been equal with the referee that was sort of in the way for that try. It really could have been an equal game.”
However, Hansen retorted: “There is nowhere in the rule book that says the referee can cause obstruction. So, he’s got to stand somewhere.
“And it’s not our fault that our guy ran close to where he was standing, it’s happened to us a few times in the past.
“I think people are clutching at straws there, what do they want him to do? Click his fingers and disappear? I don’t know. I don’t understand why they’d get upset about it, personally.”
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