English ref Barnes opens up about his biggest mistake
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Referee Wayne Barnes has opened up about the infamous World Cup quarterfinal between France and New Zealand where a defining decision to not call a forward pass contributed to France’s upset win.
Answering a Q&A on BT Sport, Barnes was asked whether there are any decisions he regrets making throughout his career ahead of his final year in refereeing.
“I think, perhaps the most high-profile mistake was in 2007 when there was a forward pass in the lead up to a French try against New Zealand, the fallout from that was pretty huge,” Barnes told BT Sport.
“I think I was voted the third most-hated man in New Zealand that year so it was pretty impressive.
“As a referee, you never want to be in the headlines and whenever you are, whether you’re right or wrong, that’s not what you’re there for.”
Barnes will retire at the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in Japan after 16-years of refereeing at the highest level. He said he loves Twickenham, but Millennium Stadium in Cardiff has the best atmosphere.
Barnes said one of his career highlights was refereeing in the special atmosphere during Ireland’s 16-9 win over New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last year.
“I love Twickenham, particularly because I live about 500 metres away from it and I walk to the ground with my bag over my shoulder so you take in all the atmosphere as well.
“For example, at the quarterfinal and semifinal of the World Cup, all of the team I was working with met at mine for a bit of lunch then we put our bags on our shoulders and walked across with all the fans through the fan zone! Twickenham is always very special.
“But I think the best atmosphere is the Millennium Stadium by a long way because of the roof, because of the noise.
“I’ve done Wales v Ireland several times and Wales v the All Blacks there, so that’s always a special stadium.
In recent times, Barnes rates last year’s clash between the All Blacks and Ireland last November as one of the best games he has been a part of, as well as the 2009 Lions tour.
“I was lucky enough to take charge of New Zealand v Ireland over in the Aviva Stadium back in November and that was a special atmosphere that day, there was something very special before the match and obviously during the match. There was a real sense of occasion to that game.
“I guess one of my favourite memories would be refereeing the Lions in 2009. It was the first time that an Englishman was allowed to referee the Lions.”