Rennie blasts Marius Jonker and Co after Wallabies defeat
REACTION: Australia coach Dave Rennie has delivered an uncharacteristic blast at the match officials after his side’s 28-29 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
Australia, who had to play with 14 men for 65 minutes after Rob Valetini’s sending off and at one point went down to 13 after Kurtley Beale’s sin-binning, eventually lost only to the last kick of the match on Saturday.
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Yet after Rhys Priestland’s 82nd-minute shot snatched victory away from his short-handed side, normally mild-mannered New Zealander Rennie went on the warpath, calling the officiating “horrendous”.
“I felt it as important I spoke my mind – I’ve been a professional coach for over 20 years and I’ve never gone to the media and had a crack at the referee or referee group, but I felt I had to [after Saturday’s match],” he said.
“How do I support my team – by biting my lip again, and us getting apologies during the week? It doesn’t change the result. We deserved better.”
Despite Rennie’s protestations, his side were let down, as against England and Scotland, by offering up too many penalties – 13 in all – and he had no arguments with Valetini’s red card for a high head-clash tackle after 15 minutes.
Amazingly, in a bad-tempered affair, his short-handed side battled back to be two minutes away from a most improbable win when Beale kicked a 78th minute penalty for them to lead 28-26.
Yet in one last-ditch attack, roared on by a deafening 68 112 crowd, Australia were pinged one last time under pressure near their own line to give up the decisive penalty.
Australia had been two men down for 10 minutes in the first-half when Beale was binned for a deliberate knock on.
Rennie was furious about double standards after what he felt was a similar offence by Wales centre Nick Tompkins in the second half went unpunished as the ball supposedly went backwards before he collected it and scooted over unchallenged.
“Kurtley Beale got sin-binned for slapping the ball down; they do the same thing, it clearly goes forward and they get seven points out of us,” complained Rennie.
He was particularly incensed by South African TMO Marius Jonker, who he believes played a major part in costing the Wallabies two potential victories on the tour against Scotland and now Wales.
Jonker was behind the sin-binning of Allan Alaalatoa for a swinging arm, thus ruling out Michael Hooper’s try in the Murrayfield match two weeks ago – a decision World Rugby subsequently apologised for as incorrect.
Against Wales, he also infuriated Rennie by ruling, after review, that Welsh centre Nick Tompkins wasn’t guilty of a deliberate knock-on, which allowed him to go on to score unchallenged.
“If we’re going to have a TMO, there’s no excuse for not getting the decision right, and we saw another example of that tonight,” insisted Rennie.
“Everyone’s accountable – or they should be. We’re accountable as players and coaches, and we’ve got to make sure officials are also accountable.
“Marius’s decision a couple of weeks ago decided the game, and yet he was appointed again. There isn’t any accountability around guys who are making errors that are deciding Test matches.
“The reason the TMO was brought in to the game was to get the right decision.
“After the Scotland game, Marius’s decision to sin bin Alaalatoa, we were told, was the wrong decision, it wasn’t a yellow card.
“These are big moments – and getting an apology during the week after is not good enough.”
Rennie venting his frustration so uncharacteristically was a sign of how hard it has been to oversee the first tour to Europe since 1976 in which the Wallabies didn’t win a match.
He clearly felt some of the 13 penalties they gave away were unfair, even if he had no complaints about the key decision – the red card for Rob Valetini after just 15 minutes for a reckless head-to-head challenge in the tackle on Welsh lock Adam Beard.
“There’s a lot of decisions today that I’m not going into which I felt had a massive bearing on the game,” he added.
“I’m incredibly proud of our effort, it was massive. When you’re one short, and two short, you’ve got to do that.
“So heaps of character, because we got put under the blow torch and the boys responded really well. I feel they deserved better.”
His fellow New Zealander, Wayne Pivac, who oversaw the Welsh victory, had no truck with the idea that the Wallabies had been hard done to.
“I don’t think it (the Tompkins incident) is a knock-on personally,” said Pivac, agreeing with the interpretation that the ball had gone backwards.
“Nor did the referee, the TMO, the touch judges or anyone in our coaching box.”
Pivac suggested “the opposition have (given away a red card) and they need to have a look at that.”