World Cup - All Blacks backed over 'cheating'
The All Blacks received some unlikely support on Saturday with both Wales captain Sam Warburton and Springboks loose forward Francois Louw confirming all sides pushed the boundaries of the law at every opportunity.
New Zealand and their openside flanker Richie McCaw were labelled as cheats on Thursday by respected British sports columnist Mark Reason for the way in which he claimed they were able to consistently infringe without being penalised.
"The All Blacks no longer even bother to bend the laws. They set out to deliberately cheat," Reason wrote in Wellington's Dominion Post, in a column that warned New Zealanders not to complain if the side were knocked out of the World Cup due to a dubious referring decision.
"The All Blacks cheat in spades."
Reason, who now lives in New Zealand, added he was aware that "other teams cheat", which was circumspectly confirmed by Warburton and Louw on Saturday, six days before the 2011 tournament kicks off in Auckland.
"I think you have to really," Warburton said when he was asked if teams deliberately tested referees. "No openside (flanker) wouldn't try it," he added of the contest at the breakdown.
"I think Richie is the best at sussing (working) out the referees but it's just part and parcel of the game.
"I could play 80 minutes and pick out 10 things where someone has done something illegal but it goes on all the time constantly. I think its something all the players, from 1 to 15 try and do on the pitch at some stage."
Louw said it was just as important to remember that teams played to the referees' interpretations of the laws.
"It's quite a fine line and it's always the interpretation of the ref that counts on the day.
"I think the most important thing is to get a feel for the ref. Some guys have mastered it better than others but at the end of the day if you can get away with it then you have done a good job."