Rugby World Cup: All Blacks coach Ian Foster reacts to officials, red card in heartbreaking loss to South Africa

Coach Ian Foster has questioned the consistency of the Television Match Official (TMO), after respective captains Sam Cane and Siya Kolisi both ended up on different sides of vital decisions in the Rugby World Cup final.

On Sunday (NZ time), All Blacks skipper Cane became the first man red-carded in a World Cup final, when he hit Springboks centre Jesse Kriel high and made contact with the head.

Initially shown a yellow by referee Wayne Barnes, after intervention by TMO Tom Foley, Cane's permanent dismissal was confirmed after further review, deemed to meet the threshold for a red card, due to connection with Kriel's head.

Wayne Barnes shows a red card to Sam Cane.
Wayne Barnes shows a red card to Sam Cane. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cane was one of four players dismissed after retrospective action from Foley, as Shannon Frizell, Springboks captain Kolisi and winger Cheslin Kolbe were all sin-binned for their indiscretions.

Before Sunday, just one player had been shown a card of any colour in a World Cup final - former All Black Ben Smith - but at Stade de France, that number increased by 400 percent, taking the total of players dismissed in men's World Cup finals to five.

In his final test as head coach, Foster was within his rights to feel aggrieved. Cane's dismissal can be directly compared to that of Kolisi, who made contact with Ardie Savea's head, but his yellow card was unchanged after review.

While the All Blacks coach wants to avoid bringing the integrity of the officiating into question, the inconsistency was there to be seen.  

"I don't want the game to be about us talking about red cards," said Foster. "It is what it is.

"There'll be plenty of time to analyse that. There was an attempt [from Cane] to wrap, there didn't seem to be a lot of force in the contact.

"The hit on Ardie had a lot of force go into that contact and had contact on the head. The game's got a few issues it's got to sort out - that's not sour grapes.  

"You've got two different situations with different variables - one's a red card, one's a yellow card. That's the game."

While wishing to avoid criticising officials, Foster suggests the impact of the TMO needs to be honed and refined moving forward. He also singled out the presence of Foley, who was present in the All Blacks' famous 2-1 series defeat to Ireland last year.

Foley didn't take part in the series-opener, which the All Blacks won at Eden Park, but oversaw losses at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium and Wellington's Sky Stadium.  

"It's probably for the game to decide at some point, it's not tonight," he added. "We got the same behaviour from that TMO that we got in the Irish series last year.

"It was the same TMO. We expected what we got."