Wallabies coach backs under fire referee

11:40 am on 22 October 2015

The Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has again come to the defence of the South African referee Craig Joubert, saying it was "unfair" that tournament officials had singled him out over the last minute penalty he awarded to Australia which cost Scotland a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

South African referee Craig Joubert awards Australia a match winning penalty against Scotland.

South African referee Craig Joubert awards Australia a match winning penalty against Scotland. Photo: Getty Images

World Rugby issued a statement yesterday acknowledging that Joubert made a mistake, but the Wallabies coach told reporters he hoped other referees would stand by Joubert.

Joubert awarded Australia a last-minute penalty when Scotland knocked on at a lineout and Jon Welsh caught the ball in an offside position.

But television replays showed that Australian halfback Nick Phipps touched the ball just before Welsh, so the Wallabies should have been awarded a scrum rather than a penalty.

Joubert was initially criticised for not referring the incident to the television match officials but World Rugby confirmed that under tournament rules, he was not permitted to ask for a review.

"Unfortunately in this instance, people have taken the game off the field and gotten quite personal about it," Cheika said.

"Supposedly, these are big people in the game who are earning their living from the game through commentary and stuff like that."

Scotland are not the first team to be knocked out of the World Cup after a controversial decision.

The Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

The Wallabies coach Michael Cheika Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, Australia lost to France in the semi-finals after Serge Blanco scored a spectacular late try after the ball had been knocked on in the lead-up.

In 2007, France knocked New Zealand out of the World Cup quarter-finals after being awarded a critical try off a forward pass that was missed by the referee.

Cheika has himself been highly critical of referees.

Last year he was given a suspended six-month ban and fined for abusing a cameraman in South Africa. He was also fined after abusing match officials during and after Stade Francais' loss to Harlequins in the 2011 final of a European competition.

"I can't make it sound like I'm looking after the referee because it's not like I've come from a pristine background of relationships with officialdom," he said.

"But one thing I will say is that once the game is done and dusted, I'm as good as gold with anyone."

- Reuters

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