It’s on you, Kieran. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
It’s on you, Kieran. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

All Blacks’ biggest failure exposed

THE forensic dissection of New Zealand's shock 36-34 defeat against South Africa in Wellington continues over the ditch.

In this piece, New Zealand Herald sports editor-at-large Dylan Cleaver targets All Blacks skipper Kieran Read

As a rule, if you value your sanity, it is best to avoid the wash-up from an All Blacks loss.

If you avoid your senses being battered by the angry Middle New Zealand flotsam, you'll still be blindsided by some social media jetsam.

Just once in a while, though, it's dangerous fun to jump into the churning seas of public opinion. This was one of those rare occasions, when an All Blacks loss, so utterly improbable to contemplate this time last week, left you wanting answers to one question: Why didn't the brains trust order a drop goal attempt?

This was a spectacular test match with an awesome array of storylines and angles but most of those are ignored in search of an answer to this narrow inquiry.

We want answers! We want the truth!

Was it arrogance? Maybe.

Kieran Read jumps on the back of South Africa’s Malcolm Marx. (AP Photo/John Cowpland)
Kieran Read jumps on the back of South Africa’s Malcolm Marx. (AP Photo/John Cowpland)

Those of you bought up before the digital age did for attention spans what microwaves did for cooking times, may recall senior lock Ali Williams' sniffy response to being asked whether a drop goal might have been a nifty plan in the dying moments of their 2007 quarter-final loss to France.

"New Zealand rugby has never taken a drop goal... I think the last time we won a game through a drop goal was 100 years ago."

So yeah, arrogance can't be ruled out.

Could it have been naivety? Hardly.

Kieran Read has played 113 tests, Beauden Barrett 67 and TJ Perenara 49. If you want to include Damien McKenzie in the conversation, well he is a relative neophyte at 19 caps but even he knows that 34 + 3 equals 37.

It has been suggested it might have been collective stupidity? Not buying it.

Read and Barrett are both brilliant, intelligent footy players who value the All Black heritage and recognise the fact there is no such thing as a good loss when it comes to defending the honour of the "Jersey".

So, for what it is worth, here is what I believe the real reason they turned down an almost certain three points (the ruck when the Springboks were caught on the back foot on their own line with about 80 seconds left was the time to strike).

The snafu occurred because of a confused chain of command.

After the match Read talked about team drivers; the team drivers, presumably Barrett and Perenara, would have been looking to the captain to make a decision.

In tight games, with time slipping away, you need a strong, decisive voice, not many.

"It comes down to our drivers to make that call and go for it," Read said in the aftermath.

Not really. It is up to you, as captain to make the call. If you didn't, it is fair game to ask why. If you did, it is fair game to ask why it was ignored.

That apparent failure of leadership should be the only real ongoing concern about the bizarre loss.

The rest is quite flushable.

This article was originally published by the New Zealand Herald and reproduced with permission.

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