Cheika's post-match invitation to referee

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika invited the referees to address the media after a series of controversial decisions in the Wallabies’ third Test loss to Ireland.

The Wallabies went down 20-16 to Ireland in the series-deciding June Test, with a host of controversial decisions stirring conversation during the match.

An Israel Folau yellow card was particularly dubious, while a penalty against hooker Tolu Latu in the final minutes was another particularly divisive decision.

Cheika said he invited referee Pascal Gauzere and his fellow officials to the press conference to address some of the controversial moments, but Gauzere declined.

Instead, Cheika cut a fuming figure in the press conference, though he attempted to rein in his clear frustration at the decisions that came throughout the game.

“I invited him to come to the presser but he didn’t want to, because I don't want to be the guy who's like, 'Oh, he's a moaner’, because that's how it always ends up,” he said.

“You get portrayed as the moaner and the whinger, so let's just get on with it and they can answer it themselves to be honest. I don't know if that happens in rugby.

Though it was clear what Cheika’s opinion of some of the calls was in the post-match, he said he would have preferred the referees to address those themselves.

"You guys (media) have seen what happened out there, you saw the decisions, the only person that can answer the questions are the referees, to be honest.

“Not me, because I'll say something and you'll say it's a biased view on our direction.”

Israel Folau has had a mixed June Series. Photo: WalmsleyThe Wallabies queried some of Ireland’s tactics in the lead-up to the third Test, particularly when it came to the defending of Israel Folau, and issue Cheika said they addressed with the officials ahead of Saturday's game.

“I tried that last week, I went to see the refs,” he said.

“They’d seen us the week before, clips of us tackling players without the ball, obviously after the Adam Coleman one, game one when the try was disallowed.

“The referee that week sent me a bunch of clips saying, these guys have been tackling without the ball three or four clips of us.

“Then after game two, I went back to them, with some other things and tried to seek clarity on what entails tackling without the ball because there was four or five tackles on our players without the ball in game two, one which broke Will Genia's arm, shoulder charge off the back of the ruck when he didn't have the ball, which the referees agreed at that meeting they were foul.

“So, we tried to get clarity on trying to do it in the back.

“I don't think there's much point in seeking clarity, it's done now.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said he felt there were decisions that fell both ways in Sydney.

“I think Izzy is a phenomenal player and I have huge respect for him,” he said.

“I know Peter's pretty sore and those things happen sometimes, which is disappointing. Same with the yellow card on Jacob (Stockdale), he just kind of spun in the tackle, Nick Phipps was on him pretty quickly and there’s no way that forearm is intentional but you run the risk if it’s elevated.

“That’s the nature of the game these days - I know the reason is well-founded because we want player safety as best we can get it but at the same time we've got to keep that competitive element as much as we can.

“It didn't look to me from outside there tonight it was a real competitive element, I thought there was real competition in every facet of the game.”

The Wallabies are still waiting on scans to determine the fitness of Michael Hooper and Adam Coleman.

Hooper suffered a low-grade hamstring strain, and could be out for roughly four weeks, while Coleman hurt his hip.

The Wallabies will return to Super Rugby next week, before reconvening in camp for the first Bledisloe Cup match in August.