Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Could the Wallabies win the RWC after fulltime (like the 2000 Bledisloe)?

In the second Bledisloe Test of 2000, the All Blacks lost to Australia by a solitary point when Nobody Eales kicked a penalty 13 minutes after fulltime (according to me and at least 36,000 other fans). It was one of the most frustrating defeats of recent years. Not just because the week previous the All Blacks had beaten them at Olympic Park in what is generally described as the game of the century. Not just because it meant that the Bledisloe would again stay on the wrong side of the Tassie. But also because the penalty was conceded ages after fulltime should have been blown.

So to last weekend, when a similar event took place in an AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Freemantle Dockers. This time, the siren was sounded by the timekeeper but the on-field umpire didn't hear it and as play continued, St Kilda kicked a goal to draw the game. The result has been appealed and the AFL Commission will make a determination as to the final result. The rule is the timekeepers keep time (rule 4.4.1) but that time is called by the on-field umpire (4.4.2). I'll blog the result when it's announced.

Update: Freemantle have been awarded the game. The AFL have determined that time was signalled but that a human error allowed play to continue.

The real issue is this: could it happen in a real sport when it really matters, like here?

Yes and no. According to 5.3 and 6.4.A of IRB rules, the match referee determines time and in internationals, there's an official time-keeper - this makes the AFL situation unlikely. But playing ages of extra time, that remains the prerogative of the match referee. I'm keen to hear what the NZRU say... will keep you posted.

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