Wallabies complain to World Rugby over referee meeting

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies are set to make an official complaint to World Rugby’s integrity unit over a meeting between All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and match referee Romain Poite in the week of the second Bledisloe Test.

Hansen and Poite are believed to have met during the week, something that is only allowed to occur if an invitation is extended to the opposing team. 

The Wallabies say they were never invited to the meeting, something that would be in direct contravention of World Rugby rules.  

Romain Poite and Jaco Peyper refereed the Bledisloe Test. Photo: Getty ImagesThis issue reared its head in June, with Eddie Jones also meeting with Poite before the first Test in Brisbane, though that was put down to a miscommunication.  

The following week Cheika floated the idea of sitting in on the meeting with Jones, with an invitation given to Australia. 

Speaking after his side’s 29-9 loss to the All Blacks in Wellington, Cheika said he had already met with World Rugby referees boss Alain Rolland about the treatment of his players by Poite and Nigel Owens, and was ‘bitterly disappointed’ with Poite’s officiating of the match.   

“I was bitterly disappointed, to be honest,” he said.   

"I’m on record with the referees boss Alain Rolland about the treatment to our captain and our players by Romain Poite and also by Nigel Owens.

"I’m not quite sure why but there was a time there in the game where in a break in play, when the national captain of Australia, was asking the referee when might be an opportunity for me to talk to you and he absolutely ignored him.

“He has the whistle, I understand, but there’s a place where the captain has an opportunity to speak to the referee and the referee might not like the captain personally, that might be his prerogative, but he has to afford him that opportunity if he’s affording it to his opponents.

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore preferred to leave the talking to his coach but suggested he wasn’t requesting anything extraordinary from Poite in the match.

“I had some of my teammates just asking for clarification around a number of things around the ruck so that’s all I wanted to just discuss with him and find when the time was to do that,” he said.

“I think it’s probably better if I leave what Cheik said there.”  

Adam Coleman was sent off after a late hit on Beauden Barrett. Photo: Getty ImagesThe penalty count went narrowly against the Wallabies (15-12) but there were a number of decisions that Cheika said were indicative of a ‘pre-determined’ perception of his players, including a yellow card to Adam Coleman and a failure to stop play to allow the Wallabies to assess an injury to David Pocock midway through the second half.

“I don’t know if it’s subconscious or not but it’s there and it’s got to be dealt with because that can’t be going on if the opponent can have every player [having] discussions with the referee,” he said.   

“No one is saying anything bad to him , if they’ve got a pre-determined position on our players.

“I asked Alain Rolland in Sydney and he said, ‘Oh that's a surprise to me if it is,’ but it’s pretty blatant to anyone listening to the ref’s ears I would say.”   

Social media lit up with vision of a possible eye gouge on second-rower Kane Douglas, from New Zealand prop Owen Franks and Cheika said he expected it to be picked up in fallout.   

“We saw it at the time but I'm sure the match review will pick it up,” he said.  

“They couldn't miss it, it was pretty in the open. It'd be pretty hard for the match review to miss.”