- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 9:29AM
For the second time during the Rugby World Cup, the Irish are having a crack at the All Blacks.
Former Ireland number eight Neil Francis has penned a column for the Irish Independent stating the All Blacks "cheat with impunity and such breathtaking cynicism and referees let them do it."
In writing about the All Blacks' pool play win over Canada, Francis, who played 36 tests for Ireland between 1987 and 1996, said at one point New Zealand "gave away 20 penalties, of which only one was awarded" and claims All Blacks skipper Kieran Read should have been sent off by referee Romain Poite while Beauden Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams escaped yellow cards.
"This was for a head-first no-arms tackle by Kieran Read on one of the hapless Canadian runners. Don't worry Kieran, you are the captain of the All Blacks, you have diplomatic immunity," Francis wrote.
"In the middle of this phase of play, there was a comic moment involving Sonny Bill Williams. The All Black centre jumped offside at the ruck but put his hands in the air. This very act automatically absolves you from wrongdoing. The referee cannot penalise you if you are an All Black who jumps offside but puts his hands up. It is in the rule book - the offside law article 5 paragraph 3," he quipped.
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"What is the upshot of this little vignette? First off Barrett should have got a yellow, Read arguably a red and Williams a yellow and Poite should have awarded Canada a penalty try.
"New Zealand are difficult enough to beat at the best of times but because they cheat with impunity and such breathtaking cynicism and referees let them do it, they are even more difficult to overcome.
"If there is a rugby Heaven and Hell, Richie McCaw, who lifted two World Cups, will probably be sitting at the right hand of God whereas in the real world he should be down in the bowels of Hell with demons sticking hot pokers up his arse and Martin Johnson for company.
"They cheat, they cheat, and they cheat! And they are let away with it time after time!"
However, despite the diatribe, Francis went onto say that the All Blacks willingness to push the limits in a pool match against a much-weaker opposition is what makes champions.
"In a match of little consequence to them, which they were going to win heavily against amateur opposition, they were prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to ensure their line was not crossed. That my friends is the difference between champions and pretenders," he said.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.