Phipps warned over medical officer incident

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies replacement halfback Nick Phipps has been warned over a bizarre incident with an Argentinian medic at Twickenham during Australia's win over the Pumas. 

Phipps pushed one of the Pumas medical officers after he appeared to try and kick the ball away in a stoppage in play, with the referee penalising the Australian replacement scrumhalf for the act.

SANZAAR announced on Sunday afternoon that Phipps had been given a citing commissioner's warning over his contact with the medical officer, considered an act contrary to good sportsmanship. 

Phipps will not have to face a tribunal or risk suspension for the action as it was not deemed to meet the red card threshold needed for a charge.

Both the halfback and the medic came under fire for the incident, with social media lighting up over the incident and split on the response, with some footage showing the same physio interfering in play after an earlier Pumas try.

At that point the Wallabies were 25-18 up and the penalty narrowed the margin to just four points with 10 minutes remaining.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika wasn’t sure what went on between Phipps and an Argentinian medic at Twickenham, but said the situation played out in the best way it could have.

“I know there no one was injured so Nick’s probably trying to get the ball and I’m really not sure what was going through anyone’s mind,” he said.

“The ref dealt with it on the field in the way he thought was best.

“I really wasn’t quite sure about the penalty but he dealt with it.

“A rare situation you get but he dealt with it the best he could.”

Cheika drew a parallel between that clash and a kerfuffle between Australian defence coach Nathan Grey and England fullback Mike Brown in June.

“I’ve seen a few different incidents like that - June series ball went over the touch line and the english fullback had a crack at one of our staff because he put his arm up for the ball.

“I’ve seen different instances over the years. Usually a miscommunication more often than not or heat of the moment.”

The Wallabies need to improve their discipline. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile that Phipps penalty generated discussion, Cheika had more of a bone to pick about the litany of high tackle infringements against his side.

The Wallabies gave away four penalties in half an hour for high tackles and Cheika said he felt his side was ‘genuinely unlucky’ to be handed two first half yellow cards.

“I thought we were genuinely unlucky with the high tackle,” he said.

“There was a few arms over the shoulder. To lose two players to that - they weren’t swinging arms.

“It was usually because someone had been stepped.

“I thought we were a bit unlucky. But they’re decisions the referee makes and you’ve got to live with them.”

Tom Robertson had a good Twickenham debut. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika was full of praise for his inexperienced brigade, who stepped up in the 33-21 win, with a gamble on 22-year-old props Tom Robertson and Allan Alaalatoa paying off handsomely.

“I want to have a little bit more edge. Just a little bit more edge around everything,” he said

“if you looked at that side and said a year ago that side would be running out at Twickenham this week, a lot of people would’ve said ‘you’re mad’,” he said.

“A lot of our guys have really stood up to be counted and we’re creating some competition and that should be bring a bit of edge because we want everyone to want to be starting in the team and playing in the tour, special tour for us.”

The Wallabies return to Australia this week before their final Bledisloe Cup clash in Auckland on October 22.