Another humiliating loss for the men in gold, another hit to Cheika’s ever fading reputation.
The spring tour has ended, thank goodness, and so the Wallabies leave Europe humbled. No more is the team’s ten-year winning streak versus Wales, and instead, the Aussies depart having lost to the Poms for the sixth straight time.
England played a tougher game, with more pride and more passion, to win easily. Good on them.
Sitting in a pub in central London surrounded by English fans, my dream of celebrating a Wallabies victory as the lone Aussie representative did not materialise. The embarrassment started early, with the Wallabies conceding in the first couple of minutes, and culminated with my walk of shame to the nearest exit as soon as the final whistle blew.
There were many uncomfortable moments throughout the game, but the worst part had to be Owen Farrell’s blatantly obvious shoulder charge on Izack Rodda.
I sat there fuming, with no attempt on my part to hide my distaste for Jaco Peyper’s egregious decision. As the replays rolled, the faces of the English fans lit up. The illegality of the hit was clear, even to them, and so they celebrated the decision going their way.
It is well known that one of the Englishman’s favourite past times is calling Australians moaners and whingers.
Michael Cheika’s response post-match didn’t let them down.
Of course, Cheika commented on the decision after the game. Of course, he was slated for his childlike outburst, and I understand why. But the notion that just because his team lost, he should now suck it up and pretend like there is no reason to criticise the ref is a strange one.
Peyper as a referee has a unique responsibility to control and officiate any game of rugby to the best of his ability. He failed. Cheika responded to this failure. Surely a referee’s performance is worthy of much more scrutiny if it directly affects the course of the game?
Let us not forget that officiating is a job like any other and poor performance should be commented on.
The most concerning thing for me is that Farrell has done this twice now. Angus Gardner’s awful decision not to penalise Farrell after his shoulder charge on Duane Vermeulen cost the Springboks a shot at victory. And so, he repeated the offence against Australia and again escaped any form of consequence.
All credit to the lad, there is no reason to stop if you are never penalised for it.
Essentially, referees are telling Farrell that the way he tackles is okay and so there is no need for him to change his technique. But that’s clearly wrong. So why shouldn’t Cheika be able to state the obvious? Criticism of refereeing decision must be paramount in order to pursue officiating consistency and reliability.
Good officiating leads to fair and even contests and that is the kind of rugby we should all want to see.
I think the most baffling thing for me is Peyper’s justification for not penalising Farrell. He said that he thought Rodda leant into the ‘tackle’ with his shoulder and so that negated the actions of Farrell. Yes, Jaco, yes he did, and that is how you play rugby.
That’s a baffling comment from an individual who officiates at the highest possible level.
Again, to avoid this article being labelled as a biased rant I want to make something clear – England played far better than Australia. The game would have been different if Australia went up 17-13 at halftime, but I believe we would have lost regardless.
England were far hungrier, more physical and took the initiative when the game was in the balance.
I really wish it wasn’t necessary for me to qualify my opinion in this manner. Any Australian should not be condemned for taking umbrage with a blatant refereeing mistake.
Clive Woodward put it best when he said, “It defies belief that referee Jaco Peyper did not award Australia a penalty try just before halftime for Owen Farrell’s challenge on Izack Rodda.”
Yes, Clive, it does indeed.