'Time to move on' from 2007 Cup failure

17:00, Jul 29 2012
Wayne Barnes
LEAVE IT ALONE: New Zealand still has an axe to grind with Wayne Barnes because of the 2007 World Cup loss to France, says Frank Bunce.

Graham Henry would have been better to keep his suspicions of match fixing at the 2007 World Cup to himself, according to two former New Zealand Rugby Union board members.

Ivan Haines and Bill Thurston were both on the NZRU board at the time of the All Blacks' 20-18 quarterfinal loss to France in Cardiff.

And both men said yesterday the time to move on had well and truly passed in the five years since the controversial match.

"I don't think this will do anyone's reputation any good to be honest. I am disappointed it has been said," Haines said of the comments made in Henry's new biography.

"I know everyone in New Zealand was disappointed when we lost that game but we are way past that now."

In Graham Henry Final Word Henry reveals he wondered if something untoward had happened after analysing play by play footage of the match.

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Henry says in his book, which goes on sale today, referee Wayne Barnes and his assistants missed 40 penalty-worthy offences by the French.

And although he soon dismissed the notion of match fixing, Henry urged the NZRU to pressure the International Rugby Board to launch an inquiry into the officials' performance.

But, while Thurston said the board shared the All Black coach's frustrations during the match, they did not agree anything untoward had happened.

"Certainly the issue was raised by Graham, and those of us present at the match were aware of the fact that only two penalties were awarded and none in the second half.

"It was totally bizarre.

"But it was never going to be escalated into a complaint to the IRB or anything like that."

Thurston never saw a written report about match fixing and said it was never discussed around the board table.

"I think you just have to get on with things, accept what happened and move on," he said.

"We were all disappointed about what happened, but that was the extent of it. There was never going to be a witch hunt or anything.

"I would say just move on.

"We now hold the World Cup, so let's forget about it [2007]."

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said the performance of the officials had been raised with the IRB at the time but not the issue of match fixing.

"It was well documented at the time and as part of our 2007 campaign review, that there were concerns about the refereeing," he said.

"We took our concerns to the IRB, they listened and everyone has moved on since then."

However, that seems unlikely for now with Henry's comments circulating the globe last night.

British rugby writer Stephen Jones wondered via Twitter if the IRB would "take action" and the game's governing body confirmed it had "noted" the comments.

The man who penned the book, Bob Howitt, confirmed everything in the tome was approved by Henry.

The reference to sports betting was instigated by the coach.

“It is also very important that people keep this in the context it was written. It must also be remembered that he [Henry] also goes on to say another reason the All Blacks lost that day was because they didn't play up to scratch.

“I hope people don't go thinking the solitary reason the All Blacks lost was because the referee gave a terrible performance that day - for whatever reason. It was just Graham was so blown away. He just thought: how did that happen?"

The book, Howitt said, was scrutinised by lawyers from New Zealand and Australia before publication.

Wellington