Kaplan: Read should have been penalised

Cape Town - Former referee Jonathan Kaplan has weighed in on Romain Poite's controversial decision in Saturday's 15-15 draw between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions in Auckland.

With time up on the clock, the All Blacks were awarded a penalty in a kickable position when Ken Owens caught the ball in an off-side position. 

A penalty would have given the All Blacks the chance to secure a series win, but Poite controversially changed his mind after consulting TMO George Ayoub and awarded a scrum instead. 

The decision caused massive controversy as the result left the series tied at 1-1, and the aftermath that followed saw many differing opinions and interpretations of the law voiced on social media. 

Kaplan, writing in his column for the Telegraph, believes that whether or not Owens was in an off-side position should not have mattered. 

He says that All Black captain Kieran Read should have been penalised for his challenge in the air on Liam Williams.  

"On the first question I disagree with the outcome that Romain and George reached in deciding that Read’s challenge was legal," Kaplan wrote.

"I would argue that Williams had already taken the space in the air and that Read could not win possession from where he was, even with an outstretched arm.

"In fact, Read’s bump on Williams caused the fumble and everything afterwards. If Romain had picked up on this and awarded the Lions a penalty it would have avoided all the controversy that followed, which is what I would have done.

"But the issue after that was the referee and his TMO then reviewed the offside against Owens, which Romain had given as a penalty to the All Blacks at the time. The TMO in this case was called for to look at a potential 'dangerous challenge' by Read, and under protocol it should not have been used to assess the allegation of offside.

"Romain would have been thinking of law 11.6, which includes the passage: 'When an offside player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a teammate carrying it, the player is accidentally offside.

"Romain ruled this was the case with Owens. However, Owens did lift his arms and did catch the ball, before letting go just as quickly. Therefore it could easily be argued that he knew what he was doing – and this is an argument all of New Zealand will be making this morning."