Cheika’s extraordinary invitation
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.