South African referee Craig Joubert would not have awarded a penalty try to New Zealand even had he seen the controversial incident during the Tri-Nations rugby Test in Sydney on Saturday.
“I was simply not in a position from where I could see (Sitiveni) Sivivatu being tackled without the ball,” Joubert said from Sydney on Sunday.
“After watching the incident on video, I agree I should have awarded a penalty to the All Blacks. A penalty try would have been out of the question because, in my opinion, (Lote) Tuqiri would have dotted down even had Sivivatu not been tackled.”
Morris Glibert writes in Beeld that Joubert was responding to an outcry in New Zealand where he has been castigated for “an inexcusable error” at a critical time of the match, which Australia won 34-19.
The incident occurred in the 68th minute when the Wallabies were leading 24-19. The match may have taken a decisive turn there and then had a penalty try been awarded.
Even Australia’s Fox Sports commentators criticised Joubert for not awarding at least a penalty to New Zealand.
And SuperSport expert Naas Botha, a former Springbok captain, said the All Blacks had reason to feel unhappy.
Joubert could even have awarded a penalty try because Sivivatu was on his way to fall on the ball in the Australian in-goal area, Botha said.
“I can only rule on what I see,” Joubert said on Sunday. “And because the assistant referee nearest to the incident (South African Mark Lawrence) also did not see what had happened, I ordered a drop-out.”
Responding to a debate in the Australian news media over the credibility of All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan’s “blood-bin injury”, Joubert said he was satisfied with the explanation by the match doctor.
“I accept his explanation that Andy Ellis returned to the field after Cowan had suffered an injury that caused bleeding.
“He may also have had a sore knee, but I don’t want to express an opinion about that.”
Steve Hansen, coach of the All Black forwards, told the New Zealand Press Association he was unable to understand why the Australian camp had made a fuss about Cowan’s injury.
“His nose was broken and he was bleeding from the mouth. Yes, he had a sore knee, but he was replaced by Andy because he was unable to continue playing because of the blood,” Hansen saidTweet