Lions tour: Sir John Kirwan slams refereeing system after drawn third Test

Romain Poite with All Blacks captain Kieran Read.
Romain Poite with All Blacks captain Kieran Read. Photo credit: Getty Images

Former All Blacks winger Sir John Kirwan has taken a shot at rugby's refereeing system following New Zealand's15-all draw against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park on Saturday.

Referee Romain Poite froze over the big call on a late offside play by the Lions, which would've handed Beauden Barrett a very kickable penalty to win the match and the series.

Kirwan, also a former Blues coach, spoke to Andrew Gourdie and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE's Sunday Sport, saying people should not be mad at the French referee, but should instead be asking why there is no support for them in late game situations.

"I don't think we are investing enough into upskilling the referees," Kirwan said.

"The game is getting faster and faster, and the other thing that is important is that referees don't have consequences.

"If he [Romain Poite] was selected as a player being put under pressure late in a game, that is something you would work on.

"We are starting to do all these things that we have to live with, like Jerome Kaino gets a yellow card but Sean O'Brien doesn't the week before.

"The inconsistencies are upsetting us.

"But let's not blame the individual, we need to look at the system. That is the problem." 

Sir John Kirwan with Wayne Smith and former All White Rory Fallon.
Sir John Kirwan with Wayne Smith and former All White Rory Fallon. Photo credit: Photosport

Despite the controversial finish at the end of the third Test, Kirwan labelled rugby the winner, saying you can't take anything away from the Lions and how much they improved during the tour.

"Warren Gatland has been superb, strategically. They got better every week including last night.

"The All Blacks put them to the sword in the first 40 minutes but could not put them away, and the Lions hung in.

"Every time they went down in our half they kicked their goals, so the Lions have had a great tour and it's probably a fair result.

"The finishing under pressure by the All Blacks wasn't what we expected but we can't take that away from the Lions."

The Lions finished their tour of New Zealand with five wins, three losses and two draws.

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