Michael Cheika shines spotlight on referee
“It’s something I will be dealing with Alain Rolland afterwards. And see if we can get something out of it. But I doubt it.”
Alain Rolland’s inbox on these cold November mornings must make for the grimmest reading.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was very clear after this 27-24 defeat to Joe Schmidt’s Ireland: Australia lost the test match because of referee Jerome Garces. Cheika refused to be magnanimous. Blunt was his default, settling with a particular nod to losing the penalty count 13-3.
“I thought we played a lot of footie mate but we got penalised a lot didn’t we?” he began amidst the ruins of their failed Grand Slam bid. “A 13-3 penalty count costs you field position, territory and then obviously points as well.
“You can’t win a test match giving away that many penalties or that big a difference between the two teams. Impossible.”
So, for the second post-match gathering this month, the match officials are isolated under the spotlight.
“It’s something I will be dealing with Alain Rolland afterwards. He is the referee’s boss so I’ll go through the proper channels as opposed to making it an issue out here,” Cheika continued. “And see if we can get something out of it. But I doubt it.”
That last sentence makes it an issue, out here in the public forum.
“It is about the application of the rules. [David] Pocock was taken out about 10 metres behind the maul [just before Garry Ringrose’s try]. That’s something we would have got penalised for against New Zealand a few weeks ago.”
There’s that inference again; rules for the All Blacks, and rules for everyone else.
“We have to do that stuff with the refs mate,” Cheika said when pressed for specifics. “We have been told that we can’t talk about that in public, because they don’t want the interpretations being done in public. That’s the edict they have given us we can’t say anything about it, we’d love to but we are not allowed to.
“I don’t want to get myself in any strife.
“We’ll go through the proper channels with Alain Rolland.”
It was even alleged by the New Zealand media that Rolland told Hansen that Aaron Smith’s yellow card was incorrect.
No clarification followed.
Referee Jaco Peyper has not been defended or admonished. Now Garces is under the post-match pump.
So, apparently, a serious problem exists between coaches and officials.
“There is no problem for me with the referee,” Cheika protested. “It’s the decisions made in the game. Not the relationship with the people.
“They are human relationships you have. It is about consistency of what we are doing. That’s what will be the discussion. Not, aw, that guy or this guy. Everyone has got their own opinion, I suppose.
“Everyone saw it out there, felt it, but we’ve got to do it through the proper channels to effect some change.
“If change doesn’t happen, we can’t do anything about it. We are outside that scope.”
Any chance of getting any joy from such a meeting? “No, not really. We have had meetings with Alain Rolland before and tried to do it that way. Maybe we’ve just got to wear it. We’ll discuss it and see what happens.”