Cheika’s ex­tra­or­di­nary in­vi­ta­tion

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

An ex­as­per­ated Michael Cheika took the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of invit­ing the ref­eree and his as­sis­tants to the post­match press con­fer­ence af­ter Aus­tralia’s se­ries-de­cid­ing loss to Ire­land.

The Wal­la­bies coach was so be­wil­dered by a se­ries of con­tentious calls that went against his team in the 20-16 loss on Satur­day night that he ap­proached the ref­er­ees’ li­ai­son of­fi­cer to have him ask French whistle­blower Pas­cal Gauzere and TMO Ben Skeen to ex­plain them­selves to the me­dia.

Cheika wanted to re­fer the in­evitable questions about their per­for­mance to Gauzere but said the ref­eree ‘‘didn’t want to’’ take up the of­fer. ‘‘I don’t want to be the guy who looks like he’s a moaner be­cause that’s how it al­ways ends up,’’ Cheika said. ‘‘You get por­trayed as a moaner or a 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 but ...’’

The most puz­zling call came in the 31st minute when Is­rael Fo­lau was sin-binned for what Skeen deemed to be unnecessary con­tact from the Wal­la­bies full­back on Pe­ter O’ma­hony dur­ing an aerial con­test that re­sulted in the Ire­land cap­tain be­ing con­cussed af­ter land­ing awk­wardly on the Al­lianz Sta­dium turf. Re­plays showed Fo­lau clearly go­ing for the ball and not O’ma­hony.

Cheika was asked if World Rugby needed to fur­ther clar­ify rules around such aerial chal­lenges in light of French full­back Ben­jamin Fall be­ing sent off by Aus­tralian ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner last week against New Zealand only for the red card to be ret­ro­spec­tively can­celled by the gov­ern­ing body.

‘‘The key word these days is ‘clear’ and ‘ob­vi­ous’, isn’t it? I don’t know any­thing that’s clear and ob­vi­ous in a game of footy. Noth­ing, right? But they run with it,’’ he said.

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