‘We didn’t get the rub of the green’ – Michael Cheika slams officiating in Rugby World Cup bronze final defeat

Jared Wright
Argentina head coach Michael Cheika before the Rugby World Cup 2023 bronze final match at the Stade de France in Paris.

Argentina head coach Michael Cheika before the Rugby World Cup 2023 bronze final match at the Stade de France in Paris.

Argentina head coach Michael Cheika has slammed the refereeing in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match against England.

Los Pumas and England clashed in the third/fourth place play-off game on Friday evening, with Steve Borthwick’s side emerging 26-23 victors.

Argentina were vying to win their second bronze medal after finishing third at the 2007 World Cup, also in France.

The rub of the green

After the match, Cheika said that he believed that his side did not get the “rub of the green” from referee Nic Berry and his officiating team; this despite Argentina scrum-half Tomas Cubelli scoring off a clear forward pass in the first half.

“It’s been alright [the World Cup], we had a good campaign; I am disappointed with the way the whole game was run. The way the game was refereed and the consistency,” Cheika said after the defeat to England, their second of the tournament after losing to the Red Rose in the pool stage opener.

“Our players have worked for two years to try and get something here. I know we are one of the lower nations. We’re not England, New Zealand, South Africa or any of those guys, but at the end of the day, it’s hard.

“I feel for the lads as they deserved more than what they got out of it today. Sometimes I love the game; sometimes I hate it when I look at the game.”

He added: “It was fine margins. Three points. We had a charge down. We hung in there really well, I thought we fought back well.

“We didn’t get the rub of the green on many things, but we still stayed in the game. It’s just the way it’s meant to be, isn’t it.”

Meanwhile, captain and hooker Julian Montoya said his team failed to control the match but also criticised the officiating.

“We made some mistakes, some things we could not control. We need to be better at controlling things. We scored a try, but then we conceded points straight after from their kick-off. We fought for every ball, so I am proud of the team,” Montoya said.

“We did everything we could, we deserved more both in terms of results and refereeing, but we missed two or three chances. That’s what happens, we lose by three points, it’s not a lot,” he added.

“I can’t understand why we were so much penalised at the scrum despite dominating.”

Cheika’s future

After taking over from Mario Ledesma in 2022, Cheika’s future is up in the air, and he said that his involvement with the side would be decided later this year.

“I’ll go to Argentina later in the year, and we’ll have a talk about how things went and what the future holds, but it’s not really what I’m thinking about. I’m totally disappointed for everyone, for our crowd, for our people, as I think we deserved to win tonight, and for one reason or another, we didn’t,” Cheika added.

“I have a very good relationship with everybody. When I arrived in 2022, it was clear we were going for two years, for the World Cup. [Felipe] Contepomi is not far off. He is getting good results, and that has always been part of the conversation. We will decide now what is best for the Pumas in the future.

“Will I continue? We will see. Maybe we need a change and take another step with Felipe, but that is not important. I want this team to win and to have success. They took with them a piece of my heart. We haven’t talked about this until now. It is not something I am concerned about at all. I know we will take the best decision.

“I would like to thank all the Argentine media and apologise for my terrible Spanish. It was important for us to have a connection with the fans, to have support in Argentina. It is for you that we do this work. We do appreciate having your support over two months.”

READ MORE: Argentina v England: Five takeaways from the Bronze Final as England travel home from the Rugby World Cup with their heads held high