U20 Championship marred by controversy as Australia lodge appeal after accusing Ireland of influencing World Rugby

Colin Newboult
Groundstaff doing work on Athlone Stadium pitch, and the Ireland and Australia U20 captains

Groundstaff doing work on Athlone Stadium pitch, and the Ireland and Australia U20 captains.

The Junior Wallabies have been left fuming after their World Rugby U20 Championship pool decider was cancelled due to the weather.

Heavy rain has been falling in Cape Town over the past few days and, according to World Rugby, left the pitch unplayable for their clash with Ireland at 2pm local time on Tuesday.

However, the following matches at the same Athlone Stadium venue, between France and Wales and England and South Africa, both went ahead.

As a result of the cancellation, the teams were awarded two points each, which sent the Irish through and knocked out the Australians, who had suffered a narrow defeat to Italy in their second match.

They have missed out on the semi-finals – the Irishmen joining New Zealand, England and France in the last-four – and will therefore contest the minor placings.

Coach’s anger

The Junior Wallabies needed to win but they were denied the chance to do so, leaving their coach, Nathan Grey, angry.

In an interview with RugbyPass, Grey revealed his frustration at the situation. The former Australia centre also accused Ireland of having an influence over the decision to stop the match from going ahead.

“Bitterly disappointed for the players and the staff … but the decision has been taken out of our hands and we don’t get the opportunity to play Ireland and finish on top of our pool,” he said.

“We played two games of the [U20s] Rugby Championships this year… in much worse conditions but a strong push from the Irish doctor seemed to work with World Rugby around cancelling the game.

“It is what it is. The decision has been taken out of our hands and we will just have to cop it. The boys are shattered. I am sure World Rugby are doing it for the right reasons, I just hope they’re true.”

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Appeal and Cape Town weather

Rugby Australia officially launched an appeal with World Rugby, hoping to get the match replayed on Wednesday, but Grey felt that it could have gone ahead at the scheduled time on Tuesday.

“Play the game. The conditions are fine. The surface water is not really that bad,” he said.

“Yeah, it’s boggy, it’s wet but no worse than Ireland would have played in before and certainly that we have played in before.

“The conditions were probably better than what we played against Italy in, so it’s a bit confusing.”

Cape Town has been in the midst of a severe rain storm, which has resulted in flooding in several parts of the city, but World Rugby still managed to get the latter two matches at Athlone Stadium on.

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