English referee Wayne Barnes will be seen but not heard in the build up to next Saturday’s Tri-Nations test between the All Blacks and South Africa.
Toby Robson writes in The Dominion Post that Barnes is the man Kiwi rugby fans will forever remember for missing the infamous forward pass in the All Blacks World Cup quarter-final loss to France.
He will be in the news in South Africa on Sunday morning (NZ time) as he referees the test between South Africa and Argentina in Johannesburg.
Barnes will come face to face with the All Blacks for the first time a week later as Australian Matt Goddard’s assistant referee in Cape Town.
Barnes has not spoken publicly about the World Cup since despite repeated requests by New Zealand media and IRB head of referees Paddy O’Brien has made it clear it will remain that way this week.
“It’s Wayne’s choice not to talk to the media and I support that… maybe in the future if he is refereeing a match in New Zealand there may be some media,” O’Brien said. “But not for this match. It would serve no point.”
O’Brien said there was “absolutely no chance” of Barnes conducting an interview before the match.
New Zealand rugby fans who were still talking about Barnes’ refereeing at the World Cup needed to “move on”, O’Brien said.
There was excitement among Johannesburg International Airport’s staff as the All Blacks arrived at dusk on Friday night, but it was a low key media reception, perhaps because the Lions were playing the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.
Coach Graham Henry skilfully evaded the one South African television station reporter outside the international terminal and it may have been a wise move judging by the questions posed to senior players.
Though for New Zealand fans much of the pressure on coach Graham Henry was alleviated by last Saturday’s convincing 30-6 win over Australia in Auckland it appears the theme may continue in the Republic.
Captain Richie McCaw and lock Ali Williams were immediately asked if there was “any extra pressure” on the side considering the coach’s situation.
The All Blacks were to fly to Cape Town this morning before a light afternoon training sessionTweet