Listen to the noise of the crowd at two pivotal moments of the 2017 Lions series, and the impression is striking.
Kyle Sinckler leaps into the tackle of Charlie Faumuina in the 77th minute of the second test, and without delay the left arm of Jérôme Garcès shoots into the Wellington sky. A roar of approval rises from the thousands of Lions fans on their quadrennial pilgrimage, matched and emulated only by that which follows Owen Farrell’s successful conversion of the resulting penalty kick.
Likewise, as Beauden Barrett kicks off in the final minutes of the deciding test and Kieran Read times his run and jump to perfection, it is their inimitable rallying cry that resounds at Eden Park. After Ken Owens’ catch in an offside position, Romain Poite reacts as swiftly as his compatriot at the Westpac Stadium – and it is the turn of the locals in the crowd to spring to their feet. After confirming his decision with TMO George Ayoub and relaying to the captains that Read’s leap has been adjudged a fair challenge in the air, Poite walks calmly towards the spot of the penalty until an interjection from Garcès himself – the assistant referee on the far side of the field, and the only official not involved in the previous consultation. “Oui, Jérôme” – this is all that is heard on the referee’s microphone for a period of around thirty seconds, at which point Poite informs Warburton and Read that in fact Owens’ actions did not constitute a deliberate attempt to play the ball. Kiwi boos and British & Irish cheers cancel each other out in equal measure, and the rest is history.