Michael Cheika blasts referee Angus Gardner’s performance in World Cup defeat

Jared Wright
Head coach Michael Cheika during the press conference following the semifinal between Argentina and New Zealand and referee Angus Gardner speaking to Juan Martin Gonzalez

Head coach Michael Cheika during the press conference following the semifinal between Argentina and New Zealand and referee Angus Gardner speaking to Juan Martin Gonzalez.

Argentina head coach Michael Cheika was displeased by the officiating in their Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Friday.

Los Pumas had reached the tournament’s last-four stage for the third time in their history but were soundly beaten 44-6 as the All Blacks cruised to the final.

Where it went wrong for Argentina

All Blacks winger Will Jordan ran in a hat-trick of tries with Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizell (2) and Aaron Smith grabbing further scores, with Argentina managing just two penalties in the play-off match.

“We didn’t do what we needed to do in the rucks and scrums, and I’m not quite sure why,” Cheika said after the comprehensive defeat.

“On a few important scums before the end of the first half, we had a good position, but we lost the ball going forward. We lost possession and had a try scored against us. The same thing happened at the start of the second half.

“It went from 15-6 to 27-6. From that point, it became very difficult. That’s the basics.

“The backs did a lot of good running, but we were missing one of two phases to break down the All Blacks. It is the highest level of Rugby World Cup, and the things we can do in a test match here are not enough. If we need 20 passes, we have to make them.

“Against a team like New Zealand, the slightest mistake is fatal. They are so efficient. They converted all our mistakes into points.”

Referee’s performance

While Cheika admitted his side’s shortcomings, he also expressed his unhappiness with how the game was refereed, particularly at the breakdowns.

“I wasn’t very happy with the refereeing in the first-half, especially in the rucks,” he said.

“I think it’s his way [referee Angus Gardner] of doing things. Every time we were in their 22, we encountered the same problem.

“In over 20 years, I’ve realised whether I like it or not, I can’t change it.”

The Pumas boss said that while he is never happy with a defeat, he was proud of his team and looked ahead to the Bronze final.

“I’ve played rugby, and I don’t like losing, never,” he said.

“It is not a sad moment, it’s a moment I’m proud for my team. We were in the semi-final of a World Cup.

“We have invested a lot in this. I am sad for them. The players so much wanted to win for their country, for the fans, for the people back in Argentina.

“It’s hard, and it’s a good thing that it’s hard, but on Friday, we will be there, no doubt. We cannot leave this way. We will learn from it and be back stronger.

“I didn’t cry afterwards. My children cried. Emotions are important but me, I don’t cry, but that’s because my job is not over yet.

“On Friday, we will have played seven games in the World Cup. Only four teams will have played four games.”

He added: “We will carry on and give the best of ourselves. This week is important. We want to finish third. We need to learn from this semi-final. Right now, we are hurting; we’re hurting g inside, but we will be ready for Friday.”

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