SANZAR boss rubbishes ‘cheat’ talk

Date published: April 13 2015

SANZAR boss Greg Peters has refuted accusations that Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was "cheating" when he spoke to referee Jaco Peyper at half-time during the clash with the Blues on March 28.

Super Rugby's governing body has faced heavy criticism coming out of New Zealand but Peters insists the investigation into the illegal half-time chat between the coach and referee had found no evidence Cheika had been trying to "cheat."

Last week, Cheika and Peyper were issued with official warnings after the Waratahs and Wallabies coach went into the match officials' room at Allianz Stadium to clarify how long a ball could be kept in the back of a scrum.

Coaches are prohibited from having any discussions with match officials during the course of a game.

With Cheika serving a suspended six-month ban for a hot-tempered exchange with a camera-man in South Africa, there was outrage in the Kiwi press – which was fuelled by a drastically-changed penalty count in the second half of the game in Sydney.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said he was "shocked" by SANZAR's verdict but Peters has backed the governing body's handling of the incident and has slammed claims of a cover-up.  

"Certainly the word cheating has not entered into any of our thinking at all and it is a pretty strong accusation," said Peters.

"If there was any evidence of cheating we would certainly have taken a different course of action, but we absolutely refute that there was any evidence available of that action or intent.

"We stand by the evidence provided by both Jaco Peyper and Michael Cheika about the nature, tone and timing of the exchange."

The SANZAR investigation found the exchange between Cheika and Peyper did not represent a code of conduct violation, which would have seen Cheika automatically banned from the game.

"In this instance our job was to only look at the incident we have in front of us, and to ascertain whether it amounted to misconduct," added Peters.

"In this set of circumstances we don't believe it was."

Cheika defended his part in the exchange over the weekend, remarking that he was "obviously … not liked over there or not respected" in New Zealand.