Referee Barnes reflects: McCaw was ‘extremely impressive’

Wayne Barnes controlled the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between France and the All Blacks in Cardiff.
Photo: Photosport

England rugby referee Wayne Barnes may not rate as former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw’s favourite official but Barnes certainly rates McCaw.

Barnes has released an autobiography in the wake of retiring from refereeing, his final game being the All Blacks World Cup final loss to South Africa in Paris.

Wayne Barnes' book, Throwing the Book.

Wayne Barnes’ book, Throwing the Book.
Photo: Little Brown / supplied

In his autobiograpny ‘Throwing the Book’ Barnes reflects on being labelled public enemy number one in New Zealand after the All Blacks World Cup quarter final loss to France in 2007, when he missed a forward pass that led to France scoring the match winning try.

He also criticises then All Blacks coach, Sir Graham Henry, who had questioned Barnes’ integrity in a book Henry wrote in 2012, with Barnes saying he hasn’t shaken Henry’s hand since.

In an interview with the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast he was asked about the best players he had observed during his time on the international stage and felt McCaw was up there.

“New Zealand didn’t get put under pressure that often but when they did he would go searching for the ball and get the turnover… and then he would get his hands on the ball quite often and just truck it up the middle.”

Barnes too was keen to dispel a theory McCaw had referees in the palm of his hand.

“Everyone would talk about McCaw having referees in his pocket. But he didn’t speak a lot. He just delivered through his actions so someone like him was extremely impressive.”

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

On his notoriety in New Zealand post the 2007 World Cup Barnes remembered walking into the toilets at a Queenstown bar only to find a bust of himself sitting in the urinal.

“So you could take a leak on my… I’ve been replaced now though by Donald J Trump.”

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