Touch judge signalled vital late decision to referee Wayne Barnes
Joe Schmidt puzzled as to how dominant Irish scrum was penalised three times
Referee Wayne Barnes awards a penalty to Wales during the final moments of the game at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Players, management, commentators, pundits and even those with referee radios were unsure as to the reason for the penalty but it transpires that Argentinian touch judge, Federico Anselmi, signalled the decision to referee Wayne Barnes from his vantage point on the blindside of the scrum.
The Irish management were made aware that the last penalty was signalled by Anselmi, although in the manic ending it’s unclear from repeated viewing what exactly the penalty was for. Mike Phillips feeds the ball into the Welsh scrum, so crooked that even the BBC commentators noted it, whereupon not for the first time in the match, Wales are shoved backwards to the point that the Irish pack drive over the ball, and the Welsh scrum duly crumbles.
“Three, offside,” is the call from Barnes, who appears to be pointing to the far, blindside of the scrum and at the behest of Anselmi, who is partly out of shot. Obviously the Irish number three Mike Ross, is off the pitch so cannot be offside, and it’s impossible for any tighthead, including his replacement Marty Moore, to be offside.
By the same token, not alone does the Welsh scrum buckle and crumble as their defensive maul at the previous lineout had done, but their backrow disengages as well.
Clearly puzzled as to how a dominant Irish scrum had been penalised three times and the under-pressure Welsh scrum only once, Joe Schmidt made reference to that final scrum when commenting: “We’ll go back and have a really good look at the scrum because I felt that we had massive scrum dominance and even that last scrum, from what I could see the ball was in our scrum. We’ll go back and have a look at that and solve any problems that we can, and probably transfer any information that we feel needs to be transferred.”
Schmidt was also clearly aggrieved at the contrast in the speed of the ruck ball in the first quarter, when Wales were on top, and the third, when Ireland had their two multi-phase attacks.
“I think what we’ve got to do is be really smart and adjust to it, start to get a feel for how things are being refereed and react on the back of that. We’ll go back and have a look and give a bit of feedback to Wayne but I think if you measure on the penalties and how quickly they were given in the two halves, I think you guys can do your own maths.
“It’s something that we’ll look at and probably try to improve on how we respond to it on the pitch at the time because there’s not a lot of point in trying to do something about it now. We’ve got to be able to react to it on the pitch.”