A line once used by Malachy Clerkin in the Irish Times is relevant to the Rugby Championship this morning: if Argentina could sue a scoreline for libel, the damages would be immense". The Pumas lost 46-24 to the All Blacks in Nelson this morning, but were largely in touch for much of the game.
The All Blacks remarkable propensity to strike back at a point of notional vulnerability proved to be a decisive factor, however: the champions scored a try of their own within no more than four minutes of each of the Pumas' tries.
They were deserving winners, but they did also benefit from one of the great rugby traditions: they were given a little extra room for manoeuvre by the referee, in this case Pascal Gauzere.
In the second half, with Argentina turning the screw, the All Blacks conceded five penalties in a row, four of them within ten metres of their own try line. Three of them came in the space of five minutes. Yet in spite of such cynicism, Gauzere did not issue a yellow card.
How many cynical penalties do the All blacks have to commit within 5 metres of their line before the ref gives a yellow!!!!
— Butters Ant (@rugby_dad_146) September 8, 2018
— Dami Awobajo (@DamiAwobajo) September 8, 2018
All Blacks just getting away with murder in and around the rucks. Completely ridiculous how refs apparently have no balls when officiating in New Zealand.
— Michiel (@hempies87) September 8, 2018
The All Blacks just put 46 points on Argentina in spite of not starting Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick, in proof of the fact that they are miles out in front in world rugby. Why, then, are they constantly given the benefit of the doubt by referees?