'Everybody knows Taniela Tupou is the most penalised guy in Super Rugby': Rebels coach turns up heat on Reds star

Thu, 10/09/2020, 04:10 am
Christy Doran
by Christy Doran
Dave Wessels has gone on the offensive against Taniela Tupou. Photo: Getty Images
Dave Wessels has gone on the offensive against Taniela Tupou. Photo: Getty Images

Queensland Reds giant Taniela Tupou is a man under fire, with Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels the latest to highlight the Test prop's discipline ahead of their qualifying final on Saturday night in Brisbane.

Last weekend it was Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa and coach Dan McKellar that felt aggrieved after their scrum suffered at the hands of Tupou. Alaalatoa's teammate, experienced Wallaby Scott Sio, was left a frustrated and perplexed man after being penalised at the scrum.

On Thursday, Wessels not-so-subtly went on the offensive.

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Unprovoked, he questioned the Reds' breakdown methods.

"We've flagged to the referee that there's some stuff around the breakdown that we want them to keep an eye on," Wessels said after heaping praise on Reds openside flanker Fraser McReight.

Then, he switched the attack to the Reds' scrum methods, in particular, Tupou's work at the scrum despite being asked to expand upon what those concerns were at the breakdown.

"Over the years I've never really taken to speaking about the refs in public and I think the reason for that is I genuinely realise that they're trying the best," Wessels said.

"There are some definite trends in the way the Reds play.

"Everybody knows Taniela Tupou is the most penalised guy in Super Rugby in 2020.

"We want to paint pictures that help the ref make the right decisions in those areas.

"Taniela is a very good player and when he does things legally and right we're happy to have a fair contest with him, that's all we're asking for. We have to play our part in that."

Without detailing what those "pictures" are that he's concerned of, Wessels then doubled down on his attack against Tupou.

"I guess the thing is that he's the most penalised guy in the comp, that's a statistical fact," Wessels said.

"All we're saying, he can also be very dominant, so the thing is we have to paint the right pictures so that if he is doing something that's not legal that the referee's able to interrupt that.

"You tricked me into to talking about the refs."

Statistics tell a slightly different story though.


Tupou was the most penalised player (10) in Super Rugby before COVID-19 ended the regular season. 

He is currently the second most penalised player (15) behind Brumbies loose-head prop Scott Sio (16), according to the Fox Sports Lab.

But interestingly Tupou has only been penalised twice at the scrum compared to Sio's 14 times.

Where Tupou has been pinged is across the field, where he has been penalised at the ruck (four), general play (five), foul play (four) and scrum (two).

Tupou's Reds have forced 22 scrum penalties throughout Super Rugby AU.

Last month, Rugby Australia Director of Rugby Scott Johnson came to the defence of Tupou's scrummaging work, saying the prop was being unfairly judged on the past, not the present. 

Reds coach Brad Thorn added: "I think you'd be surprised if he wasn't (dominating)."

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REDS (1-15): Harry Hoopert, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Liam Wright (c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O'Connor, Filpo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jock Campbell

Reserves: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Jack Straker, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Hunter Paisami

Ins: Alex Mafi, Jack Straker

Outs: Josh Nasser, Ruan Smith

REBELS (1-15): Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Jermaine Ainsley, Matt Philip, Trevor Hosea, Brad Wilkin, Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, Frank Lomani, Matt To'omua, Marika Koroibete, Bill Meakes, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Dane Haylett-Petty (c)

Reserves: Efitusi Ma'afu, Cabous Eloff, Matt Gibbon, Michael Stolberg, Rob Leota, Theo Strang, Andrew Deegan, Campbell Magney

Ins: Andrew Kellaway, Rob Leota, Theo Strang, Campbell Magnay

Outs: Michael Wells, James Tuttle, Tom Pincus, Lachie Anderson

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