You'd think Helen Clark would be a bit sheepish after the "Clark Curse" contributed to another high-profile defeat for a New Zealand sporting team. But no - this from the Herald's website this afternoon:
Thank's a million Helen! That's just what New Zealanders needed to hear. The Herald reports that "Asked her opinion on referee Wayne Barnes, Miss Clark said: "I think we would like the All Blacks to have put in a strong enough performance for the refereeing - good or bad - not to have been an issue," she said."
Obviously, there's no prospect of her calling an early election, as Dear Leader has just ostracised every rugby supporter in New Zealand - as well as saying that the All Blacks weren't good enough! Her feigned interest in rugby is frankly insulting.
Talking about the referee, here's comments I made today at a rugby discussion site that I visit from time to time:
"The referee. There's a whole lot of issues here, so I'll touch on them one by one. Firstly, Paddy O'Brien and his IRB advisors should be shot for putting Wayne Barnes up for this game. Twelve tests, 28 years old, does not an experienced test referee make. Secondly, if Peter Thorburn's comments on RadioSport this morning are correct, Paddy O'Brien and his IRB advisors should be shot. We are now hearing that touch judges were forbidden from assisting the referees in this RWC apart from decision on line of touch and foul play. To put a guy of Barnes' relative inexperience into a game of this magnitude, where he couldn't draw from the experience of his touchies, was a recipe for disaster. This is especially so when you consider the relience that referees now have on their touchjudges. To suddenly have to go back to the "good old days" when the referee was truly the "sole judge of fact and of law" would be a shock to the system, even to an experienced referee. You could argue strongly that Barnes was set up to fail.
Barnes had a poor game, especially during the second half. Given the AB's possession advantage, it beggars belief that the French were not penalised a single time in the second half. It's even worse when you look at the persistent infringing by the French - players lying over the ball, entering from the side, fringeing offside and using hands - however, they got away with it, and good luck to them. I'm prepared to cut Barnes some slack over the forward pass, knowing now that the touchies couldn't help him - the pace of the break-out left him in a position from which he could not fairly adjudicate. However the decision to sin-bin McAlister was at best questionable, and in my opinion as a former referee, too harsh.
The IRB's appointment process must also be called into question. If Kaplan, Walsh, Honnis and Rolland are considered to be the four best referees at the tounament (having been appointed to the semis, 3/4 place and final respectively), why was only Rolland appointed to a quarter-final? Surely, when you get to the pointy end of the tournament, the best referees should be doing all the games. Are the appointments for the last two weeks an admission by the IRB that they got the quarter-final appointments wrong, or were the quarter-final appointments merely consolation prizes? If it was the latter, the IRB should hang their collective heads in shame."
Sorry if this upsets you Helen, but we are still allowed to express opinions - you haven't yet passed the EFB! Kill the Bill!!!