Wayne Barnes' verdict on Richie McCaw being a 'serial cheat', he says look at the stats - Ruck

Wayne Barnes’ verdict on Richie McCaw being a ‘serial cheat’, he says look at the stats

In his autobiography Throwing the Book, retired referee Wayne Barnes provides insights into the contentious debate surrounding the reputation of former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw as a “serial cheat.”

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After a near two-decade career as a top-level match official, Barnes hung up his whistle following one of the most enthralling finals, which saw South Africa edge New Zealand by a single point to retain the Web Ellis Cup last Autumn.

The 44-year-old publicly announced he would be bringing his officiating career to a close following the final, a decision which was taken with his family and career as a law firm partner at Squire Patton Boggs in mind.

Barnes’ career has been closely linked with McCaw’s, notably during the 2007 Rugby World Cup when New Zealand suffered a quarter-final exit under Barnes’ officiating. McCaw publicly criticised Barnes’ inexperience, accusing him of being ‘frozen with fear’ during the crucial moments of the match.

However, the relationship between the two eventually improved, with McCaw praising Barnes as a ‘top bloke’ during the 2015 World Cup. Now, Barnes offers his perspective on the former All Blacks captain in his autobiography.

“One captain people imagine must have got up refs’ noses was All Blacks great Richie McCaw, because he was widely accused of being a serial cheat,” Barnes wrote.

“The list of opposition coaches and players who called him a cheat was long, and included France number eight Imanol Harinordoquy, who claimed that McCaw played the whole of the 2011 World Cup final offside.

“But I always thought the argument that McCaw was allowed to get away with murder was lazy.”

Richie McCaw of New Zealand and Daniel Carter of New Zealand hold aloft the Rugby World Cup during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on Oct 31st 2015 in London – Photo mandatory by-line: Graeme Truby/Pinnacle – Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 – Mobile:0797 1270 681 – VAT Reg No: 183700120 – SPORT – International Rugby

Barnes called McCaw a “wily” player where the “cheat” narrative didn’t stack up based on how often McCaw was pinged.

“If you look at the stats, McCaw gave away more penalties than most international back rows, so the argument that referees were keeping a proper eye on him doesn’t stand up,” he wrote.

“Neither does the argument that he intimidated referees, because he hardly spoke.

“So, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but Richie McCaw was fine by me. A good skipper is a wily skipper, and McCaw was as wily as they come.”

Wayne Barnes doesn’t hesitate when naming the best rugby captain he ever refereed

During a 2021 Q&A with Teddington Nub News, the famous whistleblower name checked three of the best skippers he’d refereed in his career up until that point.

#3. John Smit (South Africa)

A rugby legend hailing from South Africa, John Smit is renowned for his towering presence on the field and exceptional leadership skills. Born on April 3, 1978, Smit’s illustrious career as a hooker saw him captaining the Springboks to victory in the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

With 111 caps for his country, he’s revered for his strength, agility, and strategic acumen. Beyond rugby, Smit is a respected figure in sports administration, having served as CEO of the Sharks rugby team and played a pivotal role in the development of rugby in South Africa.

John Smith and Schalk Burger – Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 – Mobile: 0797 1270 681 – 17/11/2009 – SPORT – Rugby Union – International – Saracens v South Africa – Wembley Stadium – London – UK