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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Mehrtens fined for outburst
Dejected All Blacks
The All Blacks led until the final minute in Sydney
New Zealand's Andrew Mehrtens has been fined NZ$2,000 (600) for criticising referee Andre Watson after his side's Tri-Nations defeat by Australia last month.

The All Blacks held a one-point lead in Sydney until South African Watson awarded a late penalty for an infringement at a ruck.

And Matthew Burke's injury-time kick denied New Zealand victory in the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in five years.


My comments were inappropriate and I deserve the penalty I have received
Andrew Mehrtens

Mehrtens said Watson "should be ashamed" of the way he refereed the match.

The New Zealand Rugby Football Union decided his comments breached the International Rugby Board players' code of conduct and constituted serious misconduct.

The NZRFU later downgraded the charge to ordinary misconduct and the two parties agreed to a fine without suspension for Mehrtens.

Acting NZRFU chief executive Steve Tew said: "The NZRFU has taken this action because of the important role referees play in the game and the respect they deserve.

"We are comfortable the matter has now been satisfactorily resolved."

Mehrtens said: "I accept that my comments were inappropriate and that I deserve the penalty I have received."

Despite the loss in Sydney, New Zealand won the Tri-Nations tournament for the fourth time in its seven-year history after South Africa beat Australia in the final match.


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