Australia coach Michael Cheika has accused Fiji management of breaching the spirit of rugby by referring winger Reece Hodge for a Rugby World Cup citing.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has ignored Pacific diplomacy and unloaded on Fiji for referring winger Reece Hodge for a Rugby World Cup citing, saying it tramples on the spirit of the sport.
Cheika hit out at his Fiji counterparts and claimed they were insincere in referring Hodge’s tackle after Saturday’s game in Sapporo which has resulted in a citing and a judicial hearing in Tokyo on a day still to be determined.
The first-half tackle prevented a possible try for Fiji and left flanker Peceli Yato concussed.
Fiji players immediately asked for the television match official to review the tackle. The TMO concurred with the referee and his assistant that the tackle did not even warrant a penalty.
Fiji management subsequently referred it to the match citing official, who deemed it a dangerous tackle.
Cheika couldn’t stomach the Fijian act because of its two-faced nature.
He had spoken in jovial fashion with Fiji coach John McKee after the game and there was no suggestion the Hodge incident would be taken further.
“I don’t find the way that they brought that (referral) in the spirit of the game at all, which is something you know from Fiji,” Cheika told journalists on Monday.
“I’d prefer that they come up to me and get upset with me if they’re really upset about it, not to just talk to me in that nice, friendly chitty-chat way and then go behind your back and put in a referral.
“I don’t think I’ve ever referred anyone over my time.”
Cheika was disappointed by a citing he said contrasted with what he was told at a high-powered World Cup meeting days out from the tournament.
He had appreciated assurances from Kiwi World Rugby citing commissioner Steve Hinds that there would be more empathy for the game when assessing incidents.
“It sounded really good to be honest,” Cheika said.
“Steve Hinds mentioned that if a team of four had dealt with it on the day, then it would have to be clear and obvious for it to get cited.
“So they’re working together as a team. Calibration was their buzzword.
“It was clear all the officials dealt with it on the day.
“I think you’ve seen from all the conjecture that’s around, the majority of rugby players from the past have said it’s not an illegal tackle.”
Cheika believed match day officials will feel undermined for the rest of the tournament.
He noted the proximity of Kiwi referee Ben O’Keefe and English assistant Luke Pearce to the incident and that TMO Rowan Kitt had access to numerous replay angles.
“What is unnerving for me is their lack of confidence in the referees,” Cheika said.
“That puts doubt in the referees for the next game – ‘oh what do I do?’
“And that’s not fair for the referees.”