Australia U20s coach Grey blasts call to cancel Ireland game, ending World Championship semi-final hopes

Tue, Jul 9, 2024, 12:14 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Australia's U20s match with Ireland has been cancelled. Photo: World Rugby
Australia's U20s match with Ireland has been cancelled. Photo: World Rugby

Australia U20s coach Nathan Grey has slammed the decision to cancel their final pool match against Ireland due to weather.

Australia needed victory to advance in Pool B after they went down to Italy in their previous fixture, however, the game was called off after the field was deemed not safe to play.

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"Due to heavy rainfall in the Cape Town region on Tuesday 9 July, the pitch at Athlone Stadium has been assessed in partnership with organisers and match officials and currently declared not safe to play," a World Rugby statement read.

"As a result, the first match scheduled at this venue between Ireland U20 and Australia U20 has been cancelled and as per the tournament rules, both teams have been awarded two competition points.

"The pitch will be assessed again ahead of the two remaining World Rugby U20 Championship matches due to take place at this venue and will only go ahead if the weather conditions improve, and the pitch is sufficiently drained for rugby to be played in safe conditions."

This left Grey furious, questioning the call to cancel the game after playing in worse conditions in the Rugby Championship whilst suggesting the decision was made after a push from the Irish camp.

"Bitterly disappointed for the players and the staff but the decision has been taken out of our hands and we don't get the opportunity to play Ireland and finish on top of our pool," he said via RugbyPass

"We played two games of Rugby Championships in much worse conditions but a strong push from the Irish doctor seemed to work with World Rugby in cancelling the game."

Futhering the anger was the revelation that the two later games were cleared to play on the pitch.

The result means Ireland will advance to the semi-finals after wins over Georgia and Italy to start their tournament.

As for the Australians, they will playoff for position, likely in the 5th-8th place semi-finals.

"The boys are shattered. We were very well prepared for this game and trained in worse conditions two days ago," Grey added.

"It's an opportunity that has been taken out of their hands but I'm sure World Rugby are doing it for the right reasons, I just hope they are true.

"...The conditions are fine. The surface water isn't that bad. Yeah it's boggy and wet but no worse than any conditions Ireland have played in before and certainly we've played in before.

"The conditions are properly better than what we played Italy in so it's a bit confusing."

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