Cheika’s fury: Ref doesn’t like us

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Welling­ton: A frus­trated Michael Cheika says he is “bit­terly dis­ap­pointed” at the per­for­mance of referee Ro­main Poite in Satur­day’s night’s 29-9 vic­tory by the All Blacks over the Wal­la­bies, say­ing the match of­fi­cial ig­nored Aus­tralia cap­tain Stephen Moore, an act he de­scribed as “bla­tant” and the con­tin­u­a­tion of a theme. The Wal­la­bies have tried in re­cent times to im­prove their re­la­tions with the match of­fi­cials fol­low­ing the three-test white­wash at the hands of Eng­land when they of­ten found them­selves on the wrong end of the penalty count, a frus­tra­tion com­pounded by their ap­par­ent in­abil­ity to get through to the referee.

Adding to the bad feel­ing af­ter a test de­feat which took the All Blacks’ Bledis­loe Cup streak to 14 years, it’s un­der­stood the Wal­la­bies made an of­fi­cial com­plaint about an ap­par­ent pre-match meet­ing Steve Hansen had with Poite that Cheika wasn’t in­vited to. Un­der World Rugby reg­u­la­tions, coaches can meet ref­er­ees be­fore a match only if there are rep­re­sen­ta­tives from both teams present, or if one side de­clines the op­por­tu­nity. A sim­i­lar con­tro­versy oc­curred dur­ing June’s three-Test se­ries af­ter Eng­land coach Ed­die Jones also met Poite in Bris­bane with­out an in­vi­ta­tion be­ing ex­tended to the Aus­tralians.

Re­fer­ring to the at­ti­tudes of the match of­fi­cials, Cheika said Welsh referee Nigel Owens also took a cer­tain stance into tests Aus­tralia were in­volved in, and the Wal­la­bies coach has pre­vi­ously com­plained to ref­er­ees’ boss Alain Rol­land about that treat­ment, plus that of French referee Poite. Cheika could be seen us­ing what ap­peared to be foul lan­guage in the coaches’ box fol­low­ing a late de­ci­sion by Poite at West­pac Sta­dium, and he didn’t hold back when asked about the referee af­ter­wards.

“Well, I was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed, to be hon­est,” Cheika said. “I’m on record with the ref­er­ees’ boss Alain Rol­land about the treat­ment to our cap­tain and our play­ers, by Ro­main Poite, and also by Nigel Owens over this last year. “I’m not quite sure why, but there was a time in the game [tonight] in a break in play when the na­tional cap­tain of Aus­tralia [Moore] was ask­ing the referee, ‘when might there be an op­por­tu­nity for me to talk to you?’ And he ab­so­lutely ig­nored him. He’s got the whis­tle, I un­der­stand, but there’s a place where the cap­tain has an op­por­tu­nity to speak to the referee. “The referee may not like the cap­tain per­son­ally, that might be his pre­rog­a­tive, but he has to af­ford him that op­por­tu­nity if he is af­ford­ing it to his op­po­nents. I think that at­ti­tude fol­lowed right through. “David Po­cock was be­ing called off by the [as­sis­tant] referee for an HIA [head in­jury as­sess­ment] and the referee wouldn’t stop the game. “The play­ers al­most went straight through the doc­tor, even though he was re­quested by the play­ers to stop so the player could go off. New

Michael Cheika .

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