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Aisle be Back: A timeless Bledisloe Cup win

  • By Kevin McCarthy

Karma so they say, is a B****. Or a B******.

It will get you in the end. This time it happened strangely to the Wallabies, on a Thursday evening, at a funnily named action hero stadium in Melbourne, with a covered roof but some early artificial cloud cover.

The karma in question of course was about time keeping. It sat there for 22 years, brooding over one of the most famous ever Bledisloe cup matches, funnily enough also played at a brand-new stadium, this time in Wellington.

In 2022, French referee Mathieu Raynal, made the call that Bernard Foley, Wallaby first-five, was timewasting, and awarded the All Blacks a scrum. What should have been a Wallabies lineout downfield, game over, instead became a last attack by the All Blacks. Try Jordie Barrett, game and Bledisloe over for another year.

In 2000, it was John Eales kicking a penalty in stoppage time, to win 24-23 and retain the Bledisloe. That time, from the All Blacks point of view, they were robbed by Kaplan time, when referee Jonathan Kaplan played to the 84th minute. Or infinity.

That’s where the comparisons end. The 2000 version was a real classic, the 2022 one anything but, other than for the sheer drama of it all. Any game where one side wins 39-37 reminds one of the NFL, where such results are fantastic to watch, but also generally tell you neither team is going to be going anywhere near the Super Bowl any time soon.

Now stand up, who isn’t against time wasting? Sit down Jaco, you too Kobus. Suck on your water bottles.  There is surely a World Rugby edict against it. Those 10 minute sin binnings have a strange effect on first-fives, who start operating like a character in the Matrix, bending time as much as possible and not in a good way. Unless it’s your player in the bin.

But to have this sort of ruling at that moment. Well, call me a traitor but it does feel like the Wallabies copped a stiff one there.

And Ian Foster got the greatest get out of jail card he’s had to date. Imagine what the headlines would be if the All Blacks had lost after holding a 31-13 lead. Good, it was in parts. Bad it was, in parts.

Plenty to chew over there would be the understatement of the year. Meanwhile, karma departs the scene. For another 22 years?


What about them Lions. Two at times-shaky wins against Tasman and Otago, and here we are talking them up for a shield challenge tomorrow night against Hawke’s Bay.

You never know I guess but the Magpies must still be favourites.

They certainly, unlike Wellington, know how to defend the log.

If they win on Saturday, I read, they will have staged the second longest shield defence tenure of this century, at 14. You wouldn’t bet against them.

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