Cheika: referees have questions to answer after Ireland’s Wallabies win
Australia coach won’t seek clarity over Folau yellow card after third Test defeat in Sydney
Israel Folau is shown a yellow card during Australia’s third Test defeat in Sydney. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty
As usual Michael Cheika spent much of the night like a caged tiger in his coaches’ box, jumping up to his feet in protest over much of the officiating, and afterwards revealed that he invited the officials into the post-match press conference to explain their decisions.
The Wallabies’ head coach was patently angered by the yellow card given to Israel Folau after the aerial contest from which Peter O’Mahony landed awkwardly and was removed from the game after failing an HIA. Folau did appear to tug O’Mahony slightly, albeit the Irish captain was left in a vulnerable position by CJ Stander’s lift.
Cheika and the Australian rugby media probably had more of a case over the late penalty against replacement hooker Tolu Latu, which led to Johnny Sexton kicking a penalty in the 79th minute to put Ireland four points ahead. As for the TMO’s verdict that there was “no clear and obvious evidence” of Jacob Stockale touching Bernard Foley’s final pass forward, that seemed like a fair call.
“I’ve been across the series, I’ve been talking about trying to build a good rapport and have clarity around decisions and have a no excuses mentality which I really want to maintain,” said Cheika.
“You guys have seen what’s happened out there. The only ones who can answer your questions are the referees, to be honest. Because I’ll say something and you’ll say something. . . I invited him to come to the presser and he didn’t want to.”
“I don’t want to be the guy who looks like a moaner because that’s how it ends up. You get portrayed as the moaner or 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, to be honest.”
And this was Cheika trying to be restrained.
Asked about the Latu penalty specifically, Cheika said: “I think you guys saw what happened. Tolu is first there with no ruck formed and he gets awarded a penalty against him. Like I said, that’s the fact. The only people who can answer the questions are the referees or the referees’ boss, if we’re fair dinkum. I’ll keep it to myself.”
Cheika said he wouldn’t be bothered seeking clarity on the Folau yellow card.
“Well, I tried that last week. I went to see the refs. The week before they had sent us tapes of players tackling without the ball, obviously after the Adam Coleman one in Game One where the try wasn’t scored when it was disallowed.
“So the referee that week sent me a bunch of clips say these guys are tackling players without the ball and then after Game Two I went back them and tried to seek clarity on what entails tackling without the ball because there were four or five tackles on our guys without the ball, one which broke Will Genia’s arm, a shoulder charge off the back of the ruck which the referees agreed at that meeting they were foul, so we tried to get clarity. So I don’t think there’s much point in seeking clarity. It’s done now.”
Cheika said the Wallabies were unable to get their attack going because of persistent penalties, the Wallabies losing the penalty count 13-12.
“Every time we got a bit of football we got penalised for one thing or another,” Cheika said. “When it got going, it was good and then we got penalised as well.
“We could have been slicker in a lot of stuff but in these battles it was never going to be slick. I don’t think the opposition was really slick either, it was a bit of a battle and a wrestle.”
“I feel like we’ve been heaps better this June, but I can’t find positives in that. We wanted to win the trophy, win the series. We’ve had great crowds throughout the series, I want to thank all of the supporters around Australia.”
In response to Cheika’s critique of the officials, and that the Wallabies lacked the rub of the green, Joe Schmidt said: “There’s always a few bounces of the ball that don’t go your way and some that do go your way. I felt there were probably a couple of things that didn’t go our way as well. I guess it’s all about perspective.”