All Blacks seek 'clarification' from World Rugby over Ardie Savea replacement chaos

All Blacks seek ‘clarification’ from World Rugby over Ardie Savea replacement chaos

An apparent mistake by match officials may have forced the All Blacks to play without Ardie Savea for 50 minutes in the 23-12 second loss to Ireland in Dunedin.

Against the wishes of the All Blacks, Savea was substituted permanently after 32 minutes on Saturday following a chaotic spell when strained headers Ofa Tuungafasi (yellow card) and Angus Ta’avao (red card) were both sent off the field.

All Blacks manager Ian Foster said on Sunday they would seek answers from World Rugby head referee Joel Jutge knowing they should have been allowed to replace number 6 Dalton Papalii, not Savea .

“There was clearly confusion around the red card and what might happen after that,” a diplomat Foster said.

“To be fair to everyone, it was a revolving door there for a little while, but we are seeking clarification, and what happened is not what we thought should happen.

“There’s no doubt that we wanted Ardie back.”

The complex set of events boils down to one problem: the All Blacks’ belief that they should have been allowed to choose between Savea or Papalii as a replacement.

During the test, referee Jaco Peyper and his line-mates insisted to All Blacks manager Darren Shand that they could not, but in post-match remarks on Saturday night Foster had implied that the officials had retrospectively admitted a mistake.

“My understanding was the opposite of the officials’ understanding,” he said. “And they told us they had to live with the decision they made.”

All Black Ardie Savea was forced to watch most of Saturday's home defeat to Ireland from the touchline.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

All Black Ardie Savea was forced to watch most of Saturday’s home defeat to Ireland from the touchline.

The confusion was caused by a strange course of events which saw the All Blacks pull Savea to get another prop on the pitch after Ta’avao’s red card, even though Aidan Ross can only play bareheaded and uncontested scrums were necessary in any case. .

The bizarre scenes also left veteran prostitute Codie Taylor in a state of confusion after the test.

“He’s one of the best players, if not the best player in the world right now,” Taylor said afterwards. “When he comes off the pitch…with his ability, you want him on the pitch.

“I’m not entirely sure what happened there. You of course want all your men in the field, but someone of that caliber you definitely want in the park.

Ardie Savea leaves the pitch at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Ardie Savea leaves the pitch at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“To be honest, I didn’t even realize it at the time and I didn’t know the rules. I don’t know the rules.

“I was just in the game and thinking about this whole situation with people leaving, I think the leaders of those scenarios intensified tonight, especially in the first half.”

The All Blacks were always going to struggle with a man down against a quality Irish side, but All Blacks half-back Aaron Smith said they also had to look in the mirror.

“I think playing with 14 men is pretty tough for a lot of this game, so we’re going to have to be a lot better,” he said.

“But there were a lot of things that we could control with our cleanups, our carrying the ball and, like I said, around our ability to force things.

“We were just a little behind. They didn’t really put us out, but they had that scoreboard pressure of a 10-point buffer that made us play a bit more.

Taylor said it was a dark locker room because the players knew they had failed to live up to expectations.

“I think just disappointed,” he said of the vibe. “When we were desperate, we were fine.

“And then at the start of the second half we talked about a few things and we just couldn’t execute and that led to them scoring points.

“When they get into your 22s, they come away quite often with points, so we have to be better in that regard.”

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