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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Australia to complain to World Rugby about autumn refereeing decisions after Wales defeat

Australia plan to contact World Rugby in the coming days to complain about key decisions against the Wallabies during their European tour, after head coach Dave Rennie described the officiating in Australia’s loss to Wales as “horrendous”.

Rennie’s main gripe was the decision by referee Mike Adamson and television match official Marius Jonker to allow Nick Tompkins’ second-half try for Wales in Cardiff. Tompkins knocked the ball to the ground while intercepting a pass by Hunter Paisami, before picking the ball up and running clear to score. 

Australia were convinced the ball had been knocked forwards, while the referees ruled otherwise. In a similar incident Kurtley Beale, Australia’s full-back, was shown a yellow card in the first half for a deliberate knock-on.

Rennie, while speaking to the media, claimed that he had never spoken out against referees during his 20 years as a head coach, but felt he had to following Australia’s loss to Wales even if it resulted in a sanction from World Rugby.

“No doubt [I could be sanctioned], but how do I support our team? By biting my lip again and us getting apologies during the week?” said Rennie.

“It doesn’t change the result. The boys emptied the tank for each other and we deserved a better result than that.

“It’s important that I spoke my mind. I’ve been a professional coach for 20 years, and I’ve never gone in the media and had a crack at a referee or the referee group. But I felt I had to tonight.”

Australia were previously unhappy with Jonker following their defeat to Scotland, after tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa was shown a yellow card ruling out a try for Michael Hooper in the process. World Rugby later told the Wallabies that Alaalatoa should not have been yellow carded for an alleged swinging arm.

“I look back at Marius’ decision to sin bin Allan Alaalatoa against Scotland during the week – we were told that was the wrong decision,” Rennie said.

“It wasn’t a yellow card. They’re big moments. Getting an apology during the week isn’t good enough. If we are going to have a TMO, there is no excuse for not getting the decision right, and we saw another example of that tonight.

“Everyone is accountable, or they should be. Certainly, we are. And we want to make sure the officials are also accountable. So, Marius’ decision a couple of weeks ago decided a game, yet he was appointed again. Is there any accountability around guys making errors that are deciding Test matches?”

Tompkins’ try helped Wales open up a 23-13 lead and they spent most of the Test with a man advantage following Rob Valetini’s 15th-minute red card. 

But Wales nearly threw that advantage away, with well-taken tries from Nic White and Filipo Daugunu followed by a Beale penalty giving Australia the lead with two minutes left, until Rhys Priestland stepped up with a penalty to secure Wales’ second win of the autumn.

“The plus is the win. We definitely made it hard for ourselves,” admitted Wales captain Ellis Jenkins. “It looked like we were chasing the game, really, so definitely a bit to work on there, but we are happy with the win.”

Given their injuries, with close to 20 players missing, Wales should be considerably more competitive come the Six Nations.

Match report: Last-gasp penalty secures Wales win over 14-man Australia

By Ben Coles

Wales spluttered their way to victory over 14-man Fiji six days ago, so how would they handle a depleted Australia after Rob Valetini’s red card in the 15th minute for making a head-on-head tackle on Adam Beard? Well, Wales almost blew it, needing Rhys Priestland’s penalty with time up on the clock to deny the Wallabies an impressive comeback.

A bruising contest with no lack of scraps including two yellow cards to go with Valetini’s red was followed by more spice in the aftermath, with Dave Rennie, the Australia head coach, tearing into referee Mike Adamson and his officials.

“I thought some of the decision-making by the officials tonight was horrendous and played a big part in the result,” Rennie raged, referring to Nick Tompkins’ second-half try. Tompkins initially appeared to knock on intercepting a pass, only for Adamson to rule that the ball had dropped backwards, with Tompkins racing away to score. Kurtley Beale, the Australia full-back, had been yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on earlier, leading to Rennie’s outburst.

Rennie continued: “It clearly goes forward and they get seven points out of us. In 20 years I’ve never had a crack at a ref – but I feel I had to tonight. We’ll end up getting an apology next week, but it won’t help the result.”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac responded to Rennie’s claim regarding Tompkins’ try by saying: “It just goes to show that you can’t switch off and stop. You’ve got to play to the whistle. You tell that to five-year-olds. We were pleased with Nick’s efforts there.

“I don’t think it’s a knock-on personally, nor did the referee, the TMO, the touch judges or anyone in our coaching box. We were obviously quite pleased with that call.”

This was so close to a nightmare for Wales, with late tries for Australia from Nic White and Filipo Daugunu appearing to set the Wallabies up for victory once Beale knocked over a long-range penalty with two minutes left.

Valetini’s red card left the door open for Wales to end the autumn on a resounding high ahead of defending their Six Nations title in the spring. But as Pivac hinted, Wales never pulled away as they should have, setting up a tense finish. “I felt we should have run away with in that last 15 minutes and made it comfortable for ourselves. Mistakes started to creep in in that last quarter,” Pivac admitted.

The Wallabies, missing captain Michael Hooper and at the end of a long year and tour, delivered an admirable late surge but will head home without a win, their first winless northern tour since 1976.

As for Wales, bludgeoned by injuries throughout the autumn, a testing few weeks have concluded with a positive result, although not a complete performance. Development has been the priority this autumn, but victories will be the real target come the Six Nations.

“When the dust settles, we’ll look back at the squad we’ve used, the depth that we’ve created,” added Pivac. “When we go one to fifteen on our depth chart, the benefits will lie there, really.”

An outrageous bit of skill from Australia’s Hunter Paisami, a no-look grubber kick, his head turned to the left as the kick went right, was raced onto by Andrew Kellaway for the opening try.

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