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Friday Dec 17, 2021

These could be the 5 most controversial moments in rugby history

A rugby match can go one way or another in the blink of an eye. Whether this is through a piece of genius from a player or a mistake from the referee, small moments in a game can prove crucial in the end result.

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These moments, more often than not, cause a fair deal of controversy and leaves the losing side feeling more than hard done by. So here are some of the most controversial incidents in recent years which have had the biggest impacts.

Perhaps the biggest scandal to happen on the field – and subsequently off it – was the infamous 2009 ‘bloodgate’ affair featuring Harlequins’ coach Dean Richards, winger Tom Williams and, to a lesser extent, talisman Nick Evans.

The story is well known but the aftershock of this manipulation of the rules still rocks the game. If nothing else, it has placed greater scrutiny on the use of tactical substitutions in the game, although this is still an area which is exploited today.

For Irish fans, the Mike Phillips try in the 2011 Six Nations is still a bitter pill to swallow, particularly in posterity given that every try seems to be checked and double check by the TMO these days.

How the try was allowed to stand is still beyond most people, as hooker Matthew Rees took a quick throw-in from a Jonny Sexton kick out on the full to feed scrum-half Phillips.

Rees used a different ball to that which was kicked out, meaning a quick throw was not permitted in the laws. But Phillips’ breakaway try stood and Wales went on to win the game 19-13; a result which cost Ireland a clear second-place finish in the standings behind England.

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Then there’s possibly one of the biggest injustices in Rugby World Cup history, as Yannick Jauzion scored against New Zealand in the 2007 quarter finals, dumping the All Blacks out at the earliest knock-out stage for the first time ever.

Jauzion finished off the move but it was replacement Frédéric Michalak who delivered the now infamous forward pass, which was missed by referee Wayne Barnes, that started everything off.

There are other controversial moments not featured in the video, including the “Hand of (Neil) Back” which denied Munster a chance of winning the Heineken Cup in 2002, while Scotland also missed out on a place in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2015 after a penalty given by referee Craig Joubert in the final minute of the game.

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