Home Rugby Tensions Rise As Michael Cheika Insists On Attending England’s Pre-Match Meeting With Referee

Tensions Rise As Michael Cheika Insists On Attending England’s Pre-Match Meeting With Referee

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika leaves after speaking to the media during a Wallabies press conference at AAMI Park on June 15, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Australia were angered by Romain Poite’s interpretation of rugby’s scrum laws.

In the aftermath of the Wallabies 39-28 defeat to England last weekend, the Australian media immediately began criticising Romain Poite’s decisions at scrum time.

Former Australian coach Bob Dwyer and ex-captain Phil Kearns were particularly vocal, arguing that it was in fact Dan Cole who was scrummaging illegally, not Scott Sio. Blows were exchanged throughout the week, with Joe Marler’s offensive tweet directed at Dwyer earning him a formal warning from the RFU.

In any event, Australia have replaced both props for tomorrow’s clash, with Sio and Greg Holmes replace by James Slipper and Sekope Kepu. Indicating that Michael Cheika may feel his front row have been tainted in the eyes of the referee.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 11:  Scott Sio of the Wallabies packs into the scrum during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and England at Suncorp Stadium on June 11, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Such has been the nature of the scrummaging debate, neither side want to concede any possible advantage ahead of the game. As a result, Cheika has decided to take the unusual step of attending England’s pre-match meeting with referee, Craig Joubert.

Although it is customary for both sides to meet with the match official before fixtures, rarely does a rival head coach sit in on an opponents meeting with the referee.  What is stranger still, is the fact that last week Cheika claimed he saw no reason to meet with referees before games.

Nevertheless, as Cheika is permitted to do so, he will attend England’s meeting with Craig Joubert, telling The Guardian, ‘the English guys wanted to see the ref so we will go along and have a listen’ and insisted he was merely adhering to the rules.

Although such moves are all part of the mind games now associated with international test matches, Joubert is a completely different referee to Poite. Indeed, the french whistle blower has often been accused of favouring one side at the scrum after the first few engagements.

Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena

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