Wobbly Wallabies file official complaint with World Rugby
REACTION: Five days after the dramatic Melbourne Test, Australia remains consumed by contentious calls in the Wallabies’ 37-39 Bledisloe Cup loss to New Zealand.
Rugby Australia has formally written to the sport’s governing body about “overbearing officials”, after the Wallabies were denied victory against the All Blacks by a controversial refereeing decision.
French referee Mathieu Raynal sparked uproar in Australia after reversing a penalty awarded to the hosts in the dying seconds of their Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks in Melbourne last week.
He penalised Bernard Foley for time-wasting as the flyhalf was about to kick the ball into touch in the 80th minute with the Wallabies leading 37-34.
The All Blacks were instead awarded a scrum five metres out and Jordie Barrett crossed in the corner for a 39-37 win to deny Australia the Bledisloe Cup and all but end their Rugby Championship hopes.
Veteran Foley insisted he did not deliberately waste time, saying it was so loud he couldn’t hear what Raynal was saying.
Australia coach Dave Rennie said he had “never seen a call like that, at any level”.
Rugby Australia said their letter to World Rugby was not specifically about the Raynal decision, but more generally “the state of the game and the overbearing nature of rules and officials”.
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@rugbycrazy_ Abit more context to the last minute call by the ref. This clearly shows Australia time waisting #allblacks #rugby #viral #fyp #rugbychampionship2022 ♬ original sound – RugbyCrazy_
“It’s not unusual, we’ve been lobbying World Rugby for some time on this,” a spokesman added.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, prop Allan Alaalatoa said he was unaware of Rugby Australia’s complaint but players were still hurting from the referee’s call.
“We just got unlucky at the end there,” Alaalatoa said.
“There was definitely disappointment over the last couple of days and over the weekend,” he added.
“But we can only control what we can control and you’ve got to take the ref’s decision out of it.
“As leaders, we looked at that moment and see how we can be better. Not only at that, but throughout our game, management throughout the whole game.”
They are not alone in their frustrations. England coach Eddie Jones railed against what he perceived to be over-the-top officiating during their tour of Australia this year.
Jones said he was fed up with laws that have seen games become stop-start affairs, which he fears will ruin next year’s World Cup in France.
“The referees, the players, the coaches need to get together and say, ‘This is the game we want, this is the game the people want to see,'” he said.
World Rugby has lowered the threshold for yellow and red cards, taking a cautious approach to improve player safety under a framework designed to protect the head, but it has slowed down the action.
While Rennie and Australian fans were fuming with Raynal’s decision, All Blacks coach Ian Foster insisted it was “very clear cut” and he found an ally in Nigel Owens, the game’s most capped international rugby referee.
“As so many of you have been in touch to ask — clear communication and warning to the player to get on with it,” the retired Owens tweeted.
“A fair and strong refereeing call by Raynal I feel. Learning here is not for the referee, but the players to get on with it when ref asks.”
As so many of you have been in touch to ask. Clear communication and warning to the player to get on with it. A fair and strong refereeing call my Raynal I feel. Learning here is not for the referee, but the players to get on with it when ref asks. pic.twitter.com/oZQASsO93f
— Nigel Owens MBE (@Nigelrefowens) September 17, 2022
If Australia has complaints over the time-wasting whistle, the All Blacks are still seething over a first-half attack by Darcy Swain.
The Australian lock was yellow-carded for a dangerous clean-out on Quinn Tupaea which ruptured his medial collateral ligament in his left knee and partially tore his ACL.
Sanzaar has cited Swain for foul play, hauling him to a disciplinary hearing late on Monday that could result in a weeks-long suspension.
“He basically didn’t see it coming. He was a sitting duck. It was a bit of a free shot,” All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett told reporters.
“I feel for him because he’s going to be out of the game for a long time … we don’t like to see these sorts of injuries.”
Alaalatoa said Swain was “devastated for Quinn” after the game.
“There was no intention there to injure him the way that he did,” he said.
“We definitely, as players, throw the arm around him because he’s probably copping a fair bit on social media.”
There was further disappointment for the Wallabies on Monday, with confirmation of a ruptured Achilles to Melbourne Rebels flank Rob Leota.
The Wallabies have now lost three squad members with Achilles injuries in the past six weeks, with Leota following Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi.
The Wallabies’ Rugby Championship concludes with the second Bledisloe Cup Test on Saturday at Eden Park, where they haven’t beaten the All Blacks for 36 years.
Source: AFP & AAP