Four yellow cards handed out, one of which turns into red and how much use of video? For the last match of the competition, and this final won by South Africa against New Zealand (12-11) Wayne Barnes, the match referee, did not tremble before putting his hand to the poached. Even if it means taking the risk of seeing the arbitration decisions carry a little too much weight in determining the winner. Remember that until this Saturday, only one card had been handed out in the World Cup final, it was in 2015, already against New Zealand.
Unfortunately, this match will not escape the rule of these final stages, it is a safe bet that once again, the refereeing will be singled out. More than Wayne Barnes' performance, it is the consistency since the start of the World Cup that raises questions. That New Zealand captain Sam Cane was sent off this evening after his head-to-head clash with South African number 13 Jesse Kriel, why not. The priority is the health of the players!
But why is this shock worth a red card when so many similar actions have not been whistled in six weeks? How can we explain that the other third row of the All Blacks, Shannon Frizell, was able to return to the field, after his very dangerous clearance on the hooker Mbonambi? The same for the South African captain, Siya Kolisi, author of a shoulder strike in the 45th. The bunker saves time and speeds up the game, but since its implementation, we have tried to understand the logic of the sanctions. In vain.
Beyond the discipline, the excessive use of video had a huge impact on this final. What can we say about the New Zealand try that was invalidated because of a forward attack, on a throw-in, several times before? Forward which had not escaped the referees, but judged backwards at the moment. Fortunately for the New Zealanders, they will score some time later.*
In an effort to avoid human errors, the use of video not only breaks the rhythm, but makes this sport completely illegible and risks discouraging lay people who are beginning to take an interest in it. This project is in any case titanic, and World Rugby has every interest in tackling it quickly, if its expansion ambitions are not just fine promises made on the sidelines of the event.