'Time after time': All Blacks at centre of ugly World Cup 'cheating' claims

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Former Ireland international Neil Francis has levelled some stunning allegations at the All Blacks and referees at the Rugby World Cup.

In a column for the Irish Independent, Francis said the Kiwis continue to blatantly cheat and referees let them get away with it.

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“They cheat, they cheat, and they cheat! And they are let away with it time after time,” he wrote.

“New Zealand are difficult enough to beat at the best of times but because they cheat with impunity and such breathtaking cynicism and referees let them do it, they are even more difficult to overcome.”

Kieran Read and Codie Taylor look on during the All Blacks' clash with South Afrca. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Francis, who earned 36 Test caps for Ireland between 1987 and 1996, took particular exception with what he saw in New Zealand’s win over Canada.

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He said at one point the All Blacks “gave away 20 penalties, of which only one was awarded” and reckons skipper Kieran Read should have been sent off, while Beauden Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams should have been shown yellow cards.

“This was for a headfirst no-arms tackle by Kieran Read on one of the hapless Canadian runners. Don’t worry Kieran, you are the captain of the All Blacks, you have diplomatic immunity,” he wrote.

“First off Barrett should have got a yellow, Read arguably a red and Williams a yellow and (referee) Poite should have awarded Canada a penalty try.”

However Francis did concede that the All Blacks’ ruthlessness against weak opposition is what makes them great.

“In a match of little consequence to them, which they were going to win heavily against amateur opposition, they were prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to ensure their line was not crossed,” he said.

Latest Irish attack on All Blacks

Earlier in the World Cup the Irish launched another attack on the Kiwis, taking aim at the “unfair” Haka.

In an article for Pundit Arena, Ewan MacKenna asked why officials are still “pandering to the dance”.

“That’s unfortunate as New Zealand are justifiably big-headed enough without a massaging of their already massive egos,” MacKenna wrote.

“Yet even World Rugby have it in their rules that to not stand on your own 10-metre line and watch a bunch stick out their tongues and slap their thighs is worthy of a fine and a telling off.”

Kieran Read and his teammates stand and sing the National Anthem. (Photo by Warren Little - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

MacKenna said the Haka has “been ruthlessly exploited and commercialised and ultimately cheapened.”

“There’s a practical reason why the Haka shouldn’t happen as, while it provides a psychological edge through self-inspiration and via an attempt at opponent intimidation, it also provides a small physical edge as others are forced to stand still and go briefly cold,” he wrote.

“There’s another reason too though as there is a huge lack of self-awareness about this. Again there are those who’ll say it’s native and it is to some, but the majority of New Zealand players haven’t been Maori. Instead, they descend from forefathers who were actually ruthless oppressors of natives.”