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Cheika springs to defence of Craig Joubert after World Rugby sell him out

The Wallabies coach has also hit out at pundits targeting the South African referee.

Murray Kinsella reports from London

MICHAEL CHEIKA HAS come to the defence of referee Craig Joubert following widespread criticism over the South African’s penalty decision that allowed Australia to squeeze past Scotland in the World Cup quarter-finals.

World Rugby have thrown Joubert under the bus by making the bizarre decision to publicly underline that the referee made the wrong decision in awarding the Wallabies a penalty rather than a scrum.

Michael Cheika Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Joubert has been overlooked for a semi-final game this weekend after his error, with Wayne Barnes and the Frenchman Jérôme Garcès preferred instead. Nigel Owens now looks the favourite for the final on 31 October.

Speaking at the Wallabies’ base in Teddington this morning ahead of their semi-final against Argentina, Cheika said he was deeply surprised to see World Rugby come out with their clarification.

“Well, I’d like my mates to back me up a little bit more on the odd occasion,” said Cheika. “I really do feel for him, I suppose we’ll send in the list after every match and make it happen every time, that’s what I think about that.

This is all I want to say about this to be honest, we talk about having the right principles in the game and all of that and I don’t think that that’s it, from some of the commentary that’s been going on about Craig Joubert and all of that and the way it’s been handled.

“Genuinely I’ve never seen that before. I’m not sure why that decision had to be reviewed. I really hope that his fellow referees stand by him. I really feel for the ref. It’s so unfair, no other referee has had this stuff put out there like that. Craig Joubert is a really good referee and that’s about it.”

The former Leinster coach – who has a checkered past relationship with match officials – went as far as to say World Rugby’s actions potentially open up scope for teams to highlight other questionable refereeing decisions in the days after games.

“I don’t know if the Samoans are putting in a list about Scotland and the little knock-on before Scotland scored at the end (of their pool game), I don’t know how many lists we’ll send in,” said Cheika.

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AustraliaÕs head coach Michael Cheika Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“But, if they are going to review them all, we’ll start making the lists I suppose. It’s a bit surprising, because no other decision in the tournament has been reviewed, has it?”

As well as World Rugby failing to support their referee, Joubert has come under heated criticism from pundits around the World.

Scott Hastings, the former Scotland international, labeled the South Africa “a disgrace,” while ex-England scrum-half Matt Dawson suggested Joubert should never referee another game in rugby.

Cheika feels such open criticism goes against the spirit of rugby.

I can’t seem like I’m looking after the ref either, it’s not like I’ve come from a pristine background with relationships with officials, but once the game’s done and dusted I’m as good as gold with anyone,” said Cheika.

“The game’s on the field, in the white lines, everyone goes hard. Afterwards, as passionate as I might be about it on the field and when all that’s happening, off the field there’s no drama.

“It’s a game. Unfortunately, in this instance, people have taken the game off the field and have gotten quite personal about it. People who are supposedly people in the game who are earning a living from the game in commentary and stuff like that.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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