Rugby World Cup: How the media reacted to All Blacks loss, referee Wayne Barnes's performance

Media outlets from New Zealand and around the globe have reacted to the All Blacks World Cup final defeat, with some hitting out at referee Wayne Barnes and the television match official (TMO).   

The All Blacks fell in heartbreaking fashion 12-11 to the Springboks to give the South Africans an unprecedented fourth World Cup title.  

But the match was marred by controversy, with the All Blacks having lose-forward Shannon Frizell yellow carded early before things went from bad to worse with captain Sam Cane sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. The decision was later upgraded by the 'bunker' to a red card.  

The Springboks also saw captain Siya Kolisi given a yellow card but it wasn't upgraded to a red by the 'bunker' to the disbelief of many All Blacks supporters.  

Here is how the media reacted:  

'It came down to a slow reaction by Cane' 

By Gregor Paul for NZ Herald  

"It just had that feel early in the piece when Shannon Frizell was yellow-carded for a neck roll - one that led to South Africa's only specialist hooker Bongi Mbonambi limping off. 

"It felt a harsh call, a bit soft, but it also alluded to the underlying lack of accuracy that was prevailing within the All Blacks. But no moment was more inaccurate or telling than Sam Cane's high-tackle on Jessie Kriel. 

"The final was always going to come down to the little moments, a flip pass here, try-saving tackle there, a big scrum, a dropped ball, a missed kick. 

"Sadly it came down to a slow reaction by Cane, a split-second loss of concentration when he saw Kriel unexpectedly pick up a loose ball. Cane was too slow to drop his body height, and before he knew it, his shoulder had crashed into Kriel's head and the red card became inevitable." 

'Barnes getting usual drivel on social media' 

The Telegraph's Mick Cleary on X (formerly Twitter)   

"Wayne Barnes getting the usual drivel on social media from aggrieved NZ fans. Thought he did well. It's the sport that has a problem with head contact. Has to be sanctioned but it will massively impact a game. Don't blame the ref." 


By Stephen Jones for Times UK  

"Here we had it, the non-Clasico. South Africa limped and panicked and drove their way to victory and retained the Webb Ellis Cup in a match that was ferociously competitive and a contest, but never remotely approaching greatness or indeed, not much beyond mediocrity. 

"Of course it was exciting at the end but it was still a shambles and we had the sending-off of the New Zealand captain Sam Cane - and Siya Kolisi, the South African captain, was fortunate not to join him as a spectator. 

"There was an outside chance for New Zealand when Cheslin Kolbe was sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on and Barrett took aim from a whopping 50 metres including the angle, but like an earlier conversion, the kick went wide and the panicked Springboks were able to keep territory in the closing stages. They gave glimpses during the long run into the tournament that they would be a new and attractive side while retaining some of their own bold power but in the end, they did it by strapping, very little in the way of flair, and an awful lot in the way of good fortune. 

"And frankly, too, there will be large sections of the rugby world who will not be dancing in the streets. Some of their behaviours in the coaching box and in the aftermath of games has been a disgrace but they really will have to take a good look at themselves and someone in authority is going to have to impose some discipline." 

'Gutted for our beautiful little country' 

Sir John Kirwan on Sky Sports  

"I'm just bitterly disappointed there is no other word for it really. I don't like a couple of things that happened during the game but I'm not going to moan about it, this is the wrong time I feel gutted for our beautiful little country. I feel gutted for the players. I think we spoke all year on The Breakdown that we didn't want it to come down to a couple of decisions and it's done that."  

Social media also wasn't kind to Barnes and the TMO with the Rugby Report Card podcast saying the "TMO is an absolute disease on this sport". 

Kiwi IndyCar driver Scott McLaughlin also hit out at the "questionable calls" the All Blacks received.  

'New Zealand waited until they had nothing to lose before starting to play'

By Andy Bull, The Guardian 

"It took a red card and a nine-point deficit for the All Blacks to throw caution to the wind and so nearly pull off the improbable. 

 "It was in the seconds after they had seemingly lost to South Africa that the All Blacks finally started to play like they really believed they could beat them. They had been mediocre for the first 30 minutes, as poor as they had been all tournament.  

"All of a sudden they found themselves a man down and nine points behind after the referee Wayne Barnes confirmed that the yellow card shown to their captain, Sam Cane, had been upgraded to red, and, then in the very next second, Handré Pollard kicked his third penalty to put South Africa 12-3 up. Nobody has ever come from behind at half-time to win a World Cup final. And New Zealand weren't going to do it playing this way."