Referees need to walk the line: Cheika

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by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says referees need to make the line on official intervention more defined, after a series loss to England.

The Wallabies were on the rough end of a call by referee Nigel Owens in the 42nd minute, when the ball hit the spider cam.

Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley was booting the ball out of danger when it hit one of the spidercam wires, falling to the advantage of England scrumhalf Ben Youngs, who booted it to the corner.

Owens called play on when the collision occurred, with Youngs taking the pressure off his side with the kick.

“You can’t hit the camera wire and [have it be] play on and he said out of the microphone. ‘50-50 for each team’,” he said.

"No, you’re waiting to catch the ball and it hits the wire you’re all of a sudden out of position and the ball’s been kicked to us.

“I don’t see how that can be play on.”

In cricket, when a ball hits the spider cam, it is ruled a dead ball but no such regulation exists in rugby.

A Bernard Foley kick hit the spider cam. Photo: Getty ImagesThe ensuing lineout cost the Wallabies a try, after a Moore overthrow to debutant Adam Coleman, which eventually resulted in a BIlly Vunipola try, coming after too much referee intervention, Cheika said.

“Moorey was throwing a lineout ball and the referee, the linesman was pushing him in the back

“That’s the one we missed - as he was throwing it over the top, in the microphone he’s (the assistant referee) telling the ref to tell England to move out of the gap, he’s pushing Stephen in the back, while he’s throwing the ball in the lineout and he misses the throw.

“We held the guy up but then I think he scored off the next play.

“Just let them be inside the gap or penalise them. That intervention’s not required.

“When the thing hits the spidercam then intervention is required I think.”

Discipline was a concern for the Wallabies through the series but Cheika felt his team had tried to go through the correct processes in shoring that up after a lopsided 15-8 penalty count in the opening Test.

Stephen Moore wasn't making excuses. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika wasn’t blaming the officials for the series result though, with Australia having numerous opportunities to clinch every game.

“You’re not going to say it costs you games or anything like that,” he said.

“That’s only a small part of this, post-Test series. The major part will be to assess what we need to do to eliminate the small errors and the accuracy that’s shutting down the play that we’re creating.

“We’re playing a lot of attacking rugby and we don’t want to stop doing that.

“There’s always a risk when you do that if you’re not accurate, and this has been my coaching story since day one, when your teams aren’t accurate, they get hit a lot on the counter.

“In this series we haven’t been accurate enough with the small details.”