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Sure to cause a furore across the Tasman, former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles says Australian teams need to “start cheating better” to keep up with their New Zealand rivals.
Upset after a serious of contentious refereeing decisions went against the NSW Waratahs in a gut-wrenching 31-29 Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday, Hoiles didn’t hold back.
“The reality is, we’ve got to start cheating better,” Hoiles said on Fox Sports.
“That’s what we as Aussies need to do. We need to start running players off the ball.
“We have to be a little bit craftier off the ball. That’s what Australian rugby needs to do. We can’t let the referee make all these decisions.”
Hoiles was fuming after neither Kiwi referee Ben O’Keefe, the two touch judges or television match officials failed to act on a “cheap shot” from the Crusaders’ All Blacks prop Joe Moody on Waratahs playmaker Kurtley Beale in the lead-up to the home side’s first try.
“That’s an elbow to the throat of a player unprotected. It’s a red-card offence. The try should not be scored. The guy should not be on the field,” former Wallaby-turned-Fox Sports analyst Rod Kafer said during commentary.
The incident occurred in the 35th minute and marked the start of the Crusaders’ epic recovery from 29-0 down, the biggest comeback in Super Rugby history.
Former Wallabies captain George Gregan claimed a red card for Moody would have ensured a “totally different perspective of the game” and suggested the Crusaders got away with other borderline tactics as well.
Waratahs back-rower Michael Wells appeared to be lifted above the horizontal in the dying stages, but the tackle went unpunished as the defending champion Crusaders held on for their seventh straight win to remain top of the table.
“They push the envelope right to the last minute,” Gregan said.
“There’s probably a couple you could say: ‘Hang on, maybe he could blow the whistle’ but you won’t because you’ve been pushing it the whole time and that’s what good teams do and the referee lets that go.”
Hoiles was adamant the Crusaders should have been penalised for a tip tackle, but the referee ignored Waratahs captain Michael Hooper’s plea to video review the incident.
“I’m not saying Bernard Foley is going to kick that because he missed two sitters but they should have had a penalty on the bell with another chance to win it,” Hoiles said.
“I don’t like the fact when a captain shows respect, doesn’t harass him all game and asks him for something to be looked at …. it’s a penalty every day of the week.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson rued “a couple of decisions proved really costly”, namely the Moody “elbow to the head”.
But it will be Hoiles’ stirring call for Australian to “start cheating better” – especially in light of the Australian cricket team’s recent ball-tampering scandal and the infamous under-arm delivery from Trevor Chappell all those years ago – that is certain to resonate across the ditch.