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Incredibly Frustrated Michael Cheika Didn’t Hide His Feelings After Loss

Sean McMahon reporting Tokyo Stadium

Well, that was certainly entertaining, wasn’t it? 

Drop goals, offloads, high tackles, yellow cards, interceptions, length of field tries – the Pool D clash between Australia and Wales certainly packed a punch.

Wales ultimately came out on the right end of a 29-25 scoreline after Australia mounted a comeback in the second half when they were 23-8 down at the break.

Although Australia only conceded seven penalties in the game, there were a number of high-profile moments throughout the 80 minutes which frustrated head coach Michael Cheika and he didn’t hide his feeling in the post-match press conference as he began with the scrum.

“I think some bits and pieces in the game went right against us,” Cheika said.

Michael Cheika

“I am not sure why we would be collapsing the scrum when we are going forward and the referee (Romain Poite) penalises us and then the linesman tells him (to change his decision). Those sort of things changes momentum.”

Cheika was incredibly annoyed with the moment that saw Samu Kerevi penalised for leading with the arm according to Romain Poite. However, many are of the opinion that Rhys Patchell’s tackle technique was poor and that he was too upright, meaning that Kerevi could do little about the subsequent contact.

Cheika described the decision as “embarrassing”.

“It was pretty funny because I thought I had seen that tackle (Patchell) before, it could have been Reece Hodge, I am not sure,” Cheika mused.

“When our guy (Hodge) makes that tackle and has the high tackle framework in his head, he gets suspended. This guy (Patchell) doesn’t think about the high tackle framework and we get penalised.

“As a rugby player, a former player, I am embarrassed here. As a rugby player, I am embarrassed.”

The introduction of the new high-tackle framework from World Rugby has led to many believing that it is causing significant confusion among players and referees. Cheika is on this side of the argument.

Michael Cheika

“That’s a tough one, right. You have got to care on the field, you have got to look after players, but not to the extreme where you are looking after the players just for the doctors and lawyers. You’ve got to look after the players for the players.”

Cheika added that the referees are “spooked”:

“I don’t understand any more. They (referees) all seem spooked. Everybody seems worried, they are all worried about stuff so much.

“I am not sure why they are worried, the players aren’t worried. Then it’s affecting everything else on the field.”

Of course, the news broke today that England’s Piers Francis has escaped a ban for his challenge on Will Hooley in the early moments of the win over the USA on Thursday. This just adds to the frustration for Cheika.

“Then I heard the English guy (Piers Francis) got off a suspension.  Maybe the lights going out (in the stadium) at the end is a bit of a symbol.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter