By William James
LONDON (Reuters) - Players and coaches from Olympic champions Germany and silver medallists the Netherlands laughed off the suggestion that Jan Philipp Rabente's winner in the men's hockey final should have been disallowed because it infringed the rules.
Seconds before tipping in the crucial goal five minutes from the end of a tight final, Rabente's momentum carried him off the pitch behind the Dutch goal, appealing for a foul. He reappeared on the opposite side of the goal to tap in the winner.
Neither side contested the goal at the time, but section 9.14 of the International Hockey Federation's latest rulebook states: "Players must not intentionally enter the goal their opponents are defending or run behind either goal."
When asked about the rule neither Rabente, nor the captains and coaches of either side were aware of it - a situation not uncommon in a complex sport where rules change frequently, and not one that appeared to overly trouble the Dutch.
"I just heard that I lost because of a big mistake of the referees," said Netherlands captain Floris Evers after their 2-1 defeat. "No, that was a joke - I didn't know that rule!"
The surprisingly good-natured banter continued between Evers and German captain Max Mueller throughout the news conference, underscoring that there were no hard feelings over the goal.
"I think we will celebrate this (silver medal) well, because we have the Holland House which the Germans don't have," said a laughing Evers, referring to their Olympic party house.
Mueller was not to be outdone.
"We've got a ship!," he said, referring to the German team's Olympic accommodation - luxury cruise liner MS Deutschland, berthed near London's Canary Wharf financial hub.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)