No, to a Fourth Test

The final three minutes of the British and Irish Lions final Test match against the All Blacks will be talked about for at least the next twelve years.

Was referee Romain Poite right to award a scrum to New Zealand rather than a penalty with three minutes to go? Did Kieran Reid have his eyes on the ball as he challenged the re-start? These will be questions that will be debated over and over again, and the view will in most cases depend on which team you were supporting.

According to the laws of the game it appears it should have been a penalty. Some say Poite made a decision in the spirit of the game, but ask any All Black or All Black fan and they will feel he let the moment get to him.

The truth is it can’t be changed now. The referees decision is final. The series is now in the history books as a tied series, the Test match as a draw. Nothing will ever change that.

Interestingly some are suggesting that extra-time should have been played so that there was an outcome and a winner in the three test series. That without a result the next 12 years will be unbearable waiting, as All Blacks fans feel, to right a wrong.

Why should there be extra time? This was not a knock-out tournament. This was a best of three Test series. Why can’t it end tied? In fact does that not make the anticipation of the series in 12 years time all the more tantalising? Why is it everything has to have a winner and a loser? Maybe this series was meant to end honours even? Yes, New Zealanders will disagree and say that they were robbed, and they probably were, but the final whistle has sounded and the result cannot be changed.

The way the New Zealanders took that decision though should be applauded. They have respected the referee even if they have not agreed with him and they have honoured the game. Had this been against the Wallabies it would have been handled very differently by the media.

Then we have a very strong voice coming from both ends of the world pushing for a decider in London at the end of the year. A Fourth test to decide who really is the best team.

This is a preposterous idea and will destroy the whole magic of a Lions Tour if it happens. Hopefully the powers that be in the home nations will realise that, and no matter how much cash is being waved in front of them by television and sponsors they walk away from it.

The tour is over. This squad of players will never be a team again. All will return to their respective countries and prepare to do battle against those very same team mates once again. In four years time another squad will be selected and it will be their turn to do battle with the Springboks. That is what makes the British and Irish Lions so special. Some great players never get the chance to play in a Lions series, some only get the one opportunity. If suddenly following a tied series a deciding game is arranged some four months after the squad has dispersed they threaten to undermine history and the honour of wearing that red shirt.

Apart from the fact the coach will have to pull together players to form a team again, and once again bring all together with the same sense of purpose in a matter of weeks, it just would not be right.

Some things are best left they way they are. This was a great series, so let it remain a series that is talked about. Let the hurt fester, because it will make the next tour to New Zealand all the more special and the next set of All Blacks all the more determined.

No, to a Fourth Test
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