Henry reveals match-fixing suspicion
July 28, 2012
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw and coach Graham Henry reflect on their exit from the 2007 Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Former All Blacks boss Sir Graham Henry has revealed he thought that his side's exit from the 2007 Rugby World Cup may have been down to match-fixing and has launched a fresh attack on referee Wayne Barnes' handling of his side's quarter-final defeat to France.
New Zealand slumped to a shock 20-18 loss at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff five years ago and Henry has opted to rake up the disappointment in his forthcoming biography. In the book, penned by journalist Bob Howitt, Henry has pointed the finger at Barnes and highlighted the fact that his side dominated the contest but were not awarded a single penalty in the last 60 minutes of a game that also included a questionable pass in the build-up to France's crucial second try.
Henry, who went on to steer New Zealand to the 2011 World Cup crown, details his own analysis of the game and questions the performances of Barnes and his touch judges, Jonathan Kaplan from South Africa and Tony Spreadbury from England. His own statistics suggest the All Blacks claimed 73% of territory in the last hour of the contest and won 166 rucks to France's 42 while making only 73 tackles compared with their opponents' 331.
So stunned by a perceived bias, Henry recounts that he became nauseous before actually throwing up with his final analysis suggesting that Barnes missed a total of 40 penalty infringements by France that ignited the suspicion that the game may have been rigged.
The book states: "He told them [the New Zealand Rugby Union] he believed, given the graphic video evidence available, that they should pressure the International Rugby Board to institute an inquiry. He also emphasised that it was incomprehensible that the IRB did not have strategies in place to investigate bizarre matches. And when it came to bizarre, this World Cup quarter-final was an absolute doozy.
"As far as Graham was concerned, the major reason the All Blacks had lost was not because of conditioning or rotation policies or decisions by his captain, but purely and simply because the officials had refereed only one team, to a degree unprecedented in the history of the sport.
"He knew if a comparable situation had occurred in other sports, it would be investigated. But there existed a blissful purity about rugby, or at least that's how everyone wanted to perceive it. It wasn't politically correct to even suggest the match officials might have favoured one team."
In an interview on the subject with Radio Sport, Henry added: "They told me to pull my head in and relax and get on with it, and quite frankly that advice was the correct advice, because if I'd actually kept going down that path I would never have coached the All Blacks again."
On that night in Cardiff, he added: "I've been involved in 140 test matches and 20 years of coaching at provincial level or the level above and 12 years of coaching international rugby and I've never been involved in a game that was like this game."
Howitt has since revealed that he, Henry and the publishers are prepared for any legal action resulting from the book, as it "has been scrutinised by lawyers".
"I can tell you that there were probably 300 or 400 words that were taken out, which I'd love to tell you now what they were because they would be even more damning," he said.
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