Michael Cheika has again come to the defence of referee Craig Joubert in the wake of his decision to award Australia a last-minute penalty against Scotland, which an official review has since found to be the wrong decision.
The game eventually finished on a scoreline of 35-34 in favour of Australia, making Joubert’s decision all the more contentious.
Since Joubert made his decision on Sunday, World Rugby have reviewed the game and made it known to the public that Australia should not have been awarded a penalty at the death.
Cheika has since questioned the decision to go public with the review.
“I really feel for the referee,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s so unfair. No other referee has had his stuff put out there like that, and Craig Joubert’s a very good referee.
“I would have liked my mates to back me up a little more on the odd occasion, if you know what I mean. I feel for him. We talk about having the right principles in the game, and all of that.
“Genuinely, I have never seen that before. I am not sure why that decision had to be publicly reviewed and put out there. I really hope his fellow referees stand by him because – well, the fact I’m not allowed to say much about it says it all.”
Cheika has also criticised how discussion has been taken ‘off the field’ and somewhat sarcastically questions if every decision that goes wrong in a game should now be reviewed in such a way.
“People have taken the game off the field and got quite personal about it – supposedly big people in the game.
“I really do feel for him. I suppose we’ll start accumulating a list [of mistakes] and sending a list of every match? That’s what I think about that,” Cheika told Sky Sports.
“I felt we should have had a couple of scrum penalties before. I don’t know if they are reviewing those or if there is a document coming out from World Rugby on them. If there is then we’ll make a list.
“I don’t know if Samoa are making a list about the little knock-on before Scotland scored at the end [of their pool match], or how many more we are going to send in. If this is what’s going to happen then every team will be making a list as long as their arm. And with reason to.
“It’s not the way it has ever been done before, so I am not sure why it’s being done like that now.”
Despite Cheika’s question marks around why on-field decisions are now being scrutinised in this way, it is the magnitude of the decision which has engaged public opinion.
Scotland are right to feel hard done by, as they could now be facing into a World Cup semi-final against Argentina if it were not for Joubert’s decision to use his supporting officials instead of the TMO.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena