November 24, 2018 / 7:50 PM / 15 days ago

Cheika slams ruling on Farrell tackle as 'ludicrous'

LONDON (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika accepted that England deserved their 37-18 victory on Saturday but was incensed at what he called the “ludicrous decision” not to penalise Owen Farrell for a no-arms tackle on Izack Rodda at the end of the first half.

Rugby Union - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 24, 2018 England's Owen Farrell, Dylan Hartley and Elliot Daly arrive at Twickenham Stadium Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

The referee ruled that Rodda had been the man dropping his shoulder as he bore down on the tryline and awarded a penalty for an earlier offence, which Australia kicked to end the half at 13-13.

“I want to make it clear obviously that England were the better team and deserved to win so I don’t want it to be seen like a carry-on,” Cheika said of the incident that Clive Woodward said should have been a penalty try.

“But the justification that Rodda tried to take him on with his shoulder is ludicrous. That’s what you do when you carry the ball.”

Cheika said that the referees’ meeting he attended two weeks ago decided that a similar shoulder-first tackle by Farrell at the end of their win over South Africa three weeks ago, which was also ruled legal, should have been penalised.

“If that’s a penalty, this is three penalties,” Cheika said, before going on to further berate the officials for disallowing an earlier try by winger Dane Haylett-Petty for a forward pass.

“We had three disallowed tries and not one referral — maybe we’ve got to move Australia up to the northern hemisphere,” he said.

“The referee is supposed to say ‘Is it a try, yes or no?’ None of that happened. The ball went out of his hands backwards. That’s the rules and they didn’t even stop to look at them. 

“We played with a lot of effort and desire but kicked the ball away too much and gave it back to a good opponent and they will score.”

Having benefited against South Africa then seen a match-winning try chalked off against New Zealand and another try ruled out by the TMO on Saturday, England coach Eddie Jones, predictably, declined to get involved in the debate.

“I just accept whatever decision the TMO makes and that is the end of it,” he said.

“We have had some good decisions, we have had some bad decisions, we just accept them.”

The victory was a record sixth in a row for England against Australia but Jones said he was more concerned with the bigger picture.

“It is not about playing Australia it is about us getting better as a team,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it was Australia, Argentina or Afghanistan.

“If you look at our performance today it was based on the traditions of English rugby. Strong scrum...lineout ball, good defence that gave us opportunities to attack.”

After a November series that brought victories over South Africa, Japan and Australia and a one-point loss to New Zealand, Jones will start his preparation for the Six Nations, where England open up in Dublin against Ireland in good spirits.

“We had a tough Six Nations, got some things wrong but we took steps forward in South Africa in terms of the togetherness of the team, how we want to go forward,” he said of the June tour where England lost 2-1.

“This series was a step forward and the 2019 Six Nations will be another.”

Cheika is at the other end of the spectrum following his 11th defeat in the last 15 games but he said his team would be better for it.

“I love footie and you can’t just have the good bits,” he said.

“We’ve felt sad often and we’ve felt pain often but we will use that when we come back.

“There are a lot of great people in our team and a lot of great things happening behind the scenes that right now aren’t turning themselves into wins, but we will turn them into wins next year.”

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Tony Lawrence and Ian Chadband

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