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Waye Barnes backed as an honest ref in NZ

English rugby referee Wayne Barnes

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Article Published: Tuesday 31 July 2012

NZRU high performance referees manager Rod Hill and several others have backed English rugby referee Wayne Barnes as an honest referee after former All Black coach said he suspected Barnes was involved in match fixing.

The top New Zealand Rugby Union official Hill says that he has known Barnes for years and that suggestions he may have been involved in dishonest dealings during the 2007 Rugby World Cup are outrageous.

"I know Wayne well personally. He's a straight up and down guy in terms of honesty," he told the NZHerald.

"He's a guy who prefers the game outcome to be sorted out by the players."

Hill said that there was no way that Barnes would be involved in match-fixing.

"I just couldn't even see it. He wouldn't participate in anything like that."

former All Black coach Sir Graham Henry has released a book called Final Word and says that after the All Blacks exited the Rugby World Cup at the quarter final stage in 2007 he suspected foul play.

In his book Henry said that the All Blacks were "sawn off" by referee Barnes and other officials, including touch referees Tony Spreadbury and Jonathan Kaplan.

Mr Hill, with 30 years' experience of refereeing, said the saga was a referee's worst nightmare.

"Having a game with an outcome like that, no one enjoys that - in terms of all the publicity and all that's going on."

Hill added that he had spoken to many referees about the issue and they were not fussed and were moving on. "It's history and that's it."

"It's an autobiography and that's how I look at it."

New All Black coach Steve Hansen who was an assistant coach in 2007, has distanced himself from Henry's stance and said that the All Blacks performance on the day was just as much at fault as the officials

"Everyone in the world knows that the referee and officials didn't have a great time that night - but that wasn't the reason why we lost that game, I don't believe."

Former IRB selector Bob Francis has also acknowledged that the referees were not to blame for the All Blacks world cup exit.

"[The comments] are extreme. They are totally unacceptable and I refute them totally," he said.

"I believe they are nonsense and I believe it brings into question his judgment at the time."

An International Rugby Board spokesman called Wayne Barnes one of the world's most experienced international match officials and said that after 38 tests he was a valued member of the international panel who demonstrates "rugby's values of fair play and integrity".

"As with all tests, the match official performance was appropriately reviewed in line with best performance assessment practice."

"The matter happened five years ago and was addressed five years ago," the IRB spokesman said.

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