Cheika welcomes referee collaboration

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has welcomed more collaboration between Test teams and referees, after an annual meeting in London this week.

Coaches and World Rugby referees met on Wednesday, with officials including Australian referee Angus Gardner presenting on different elements of the game.

The two groups have a chance to discuss the direction of rugby moving forward and where laws may evolve.

Defence coach Nathan Grey attended the meeting in London on behalf of Australia, with Cheika unwell.

Though he wasn’t there, Cheika was positive about the impact of the initiative.

“It's a great initiative from World Rugby, it's come from the top (World Rugby chairman) Bill Beaumont and (World Rugby referees boss) Alain Rolland driving those things,” he said.

“What it does (is) puts the coaches and refs next to each other, solving problems, doing stuff that you wouldn't normally do, so you get to know them a bit more personally.

“It makes you understand a little bit more from our point of view what they've got to go through and from them for us and what we think.

Cheika’s Wallabies haven’t always had the best relationship with referees, on or off the field, but the Australia coach said he felt they were mending some bridges in that area.

“I think our team's made really good leaps around that over the last 12 months, just our position in all of that and our relationship with the referees both on the field and off the field has improved out of sight,” he said.

“I'd like to see that continue for us in particular.”

Bill Beaumont is the new World Rugby chairman. Photo: Getty ImagesIn a World Rugby statement, Beaumont said the meetings helped ensure coaches and referees were on the same page.

“I’d like to thank the referees and coaches for what was an excellent meeting, full of clear messages and lively discussion.

"It is through dialogue between these key experts that the game continues to improve at the highest level without eroding the cherished values of respect, discipline, integrity, solidarity and passion.

“These meetings between coaches and World Rugby refereeing representatives are a very positive and welcome forum. Everyone wants to see a high-quality game from players and referees and that is what we are committed to delivering.

“And, as the law book states, the responsibility for ensuring this happens lies not with one individual – it involves coaches, captains, players and referees.”

Kiwi Glen Jackson also presented at the meeting, ahead of taking the reins of the Wallabies’ clash with Wales on Saturday night.

The Wallabies take on Wales on Saturday, kicking off at 5:15pm local, Sunday 4:15am AEDT LIVE on beIn Sports and SBS.