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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK
Death threats outrage refs chief
Wayne Barnes (right)
Barnes (right) sin-binned McAlister (left) for obstruction
The International Rugby Board has defended referee Wayne Barnes after he received death threats in the wake of New Zealand's surprise World Cup exit.

Barnes sent Luke McAlister to the sin-bin and missed a forward pass in the lead-up to France's match-winning try as the All Blacks lost 20-18.

He has been subjected to personal abuse and death threats on internet sites.

"I think it's a disgrace and people have to grow up," IRB referees manager Paddy O'Brien told BBC Radio 5live.

"New Zealand losing that game was not all about the forward pass. The pass was forward but that's rugby refereeing.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you can't turn back the clock.

"I'm a very proud Kiwi and I wear my heart on my sleeve when the All Blacks are playing, but it doesn't change my judgement.

"Sport is about winning and losing and New Zealand lost, let's get on with life.

"It's a sad reflection and I'd like to say that it's not all New Zealand people.

"Wayne is a superb referee, we have a lot of confidence in him.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw
The All Blacks have had to leave France earlier than expected

"That's why we gave him the quarter-final. He's an outstanding individual as a person and it makes me sick to the stomach to hear some of the comments about him."

O'Brien also insisted that Barnes was still a big part of the IRB's future plans.

"I've spoken to Wayne personally to congratulate him on a very fine performance," he said.

"We spoke about the forward pass but at the end of the day he can't guess.

"It's a game played by humans and refereed by humans. We try to get it accurate if we can and WB is the brightest star we have on our books."

Former Ireland scrum-half Alain Rolland will referee the final, with Jonathan Kaplan taking charge of England and France's semi-final and Steve Walsh officiating in Sunday's meeting between South Africa and Argentina.

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