Eight-man bungle could hurt 7s: Friend

Australian coach Andy Friend says World Rugby must act quickly to ensure the debut of sevens at the Rio Olympics isn’t plagued by an embarrassing eight-man bungle like the one which struck the Sydney Sevens.

The sport’s governing body has launched an investigation into New Zealand’s apparent fielding of an extra man in the dying stages of their 17-17 pool draw with the home side.

Although the result was allowed to stand, the All Black Sevens are facing possible disciplinary action when World Rugby finishes its review.

Australia led 17-10 in the dying moments of the final pool A match when vision from television cameras showed eight New Zealanders on Allianz Stadium before Ardie Savea scored under the posts.

NZ took top spot in pool A on for-and-against to be drawn against the USA in the Cup quarter-finals, while Australia arguably received some fortune by meeting an injury-hit England.

Ironically, both sides then won through to a Sunday night rematch in the final.

Friend believed the incident was a pure accident but was baffled how such a simple mistake could have been made at a crucial time of a match.

“The question is how can that happen? In an Olympic year, if that comes down to a gold medal game, well what’s the point?” he said, shaking his head.

“Our boys, when they came off, they said they couldn’t understand how they had the numbers out there.

“What we have to make sure is that those simple mistakes don’t happen in a big tournament.”

While New Zealand would not comment, Friend said World Rugby also needed to look at the sanctions for an eight-man breach, as the current punishment was a mere on-field penalty.

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