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Former top official says referees have subconscious bias towards All Blacks

Former top referee Rob Debney claims there is a subconscious leniency towards the All Blacks by officials handling their test matches.

“Once again the conversation is being dominated by claims that New Zealand always seem to get away with murder,” wrote Debney in his piece for The Times in the UK.

“If I had an answer as to why there appears to be a leniency towards them, I would be a professor in psychology, but it exists on a subconscious level. The accountability for taking a decision against them, the scrutiny it comes under compared with other teams, is incredible.”

Debney felt Pearce had “a really good game” but got the two decisions dominating the headlines wrong.

“Yes, Grosso was falling in the collision but the onus is on the referee to make his ruling based on the outcome of an incident. Intent is not material in the decision. Did Tu’ungafasi’s shoulder connect with Grosso’s head? Yes. Red card,” wrote Debney.



And he believed France’s Paul Garillagues should not have been sin-binned for his tackle on Ryan Crotty “that barely warranted a penalty”. The yellow card opened the floodgates for the All Blacks’ remarkable rally after a tight first half.

“The France lock executed a ‘seatbelt tackle’, wrapping one arm over Crotty’s shoulder and around his torso to halt the All Blacks centre, but his arm was nowhere near Crotty’s neck. Pearce would have realised that, had he taken more time and checked the replay.”

Outspoken Sunday Times rugby correspondent Stephen Jones joined the debate via Twitter claiming the sport’s governing body was missing in action over the issue. He also suggested the Grosso tackle was “a criminal offence”.



“Time to hear from World Rugby after the assault last Saturday. Players must be charged, so too alleged disciplinary panel for bringing sport into disrepute.”

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