Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has publicly criticised television match official Marius Jonker’s performance despite the risk of a sanction from World Rugby.
Throughout his 20-year coaching career, Rennie has seldom chosen to criticise performances of match officials openly. However, the 57-year-old felt it was necessary following the nature of the Wallabies’ 29-28 loss to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Competitive till the end
Despite having Rob Valetini sent off for most of the game, Australia stayed in the match and held the lead on the final hooter. However, Wales were not done yet, with Rhys Priestland converting an 82nd-minute penalty which handed the Wallabies their third successive defeat and a winless return during their Autumn Nations Series campaign.
Rennie was furious at the number of disputable decisions made by officials and boldly labelled some of the decisions as “horrendous” during the post-match interview and again at the press conference later on.
He was unsettled with Jonker, particularly the South African’s intervention resulting in an Allan Alaalatoa yellow card and a disallowed Michael Hooper try in the loss against Scotland two weeks ago.
According to Rennie, World Rugby told the Wallabies that the Alaalatoa decision was incorrect.
Despite that, Jonker was appointed for the Wales-Australia match. Again, questions are being asked about the television match official’s support of a Nick Tompkins try that included an alleged deliberate knockdown in the build-up, similar or possibly worse than the knockdown that had Kurtley Beale in the sin bin.
“I look back at Marius’ decision, to sin bin Allan Alaalatoa against Scotland during the week – we were told that was the wrong decision,” Rennie said after Saturday’s Test against Wales.
“It wasn’t a yellow card. They’re big moments. Getting an apology during the week isn’t good enough. If we are going to have a TMO, there is no excuse for not getting the decision right, and we saw another example of that tonight.
“Everyone is accountable, or they should be. Certainly, we are. And we want to make sure the officials are also accountable. So, Marius’ decision a couple of weeks ago decided a game, yet he was appointed again. Is there any accountability around guys making errors that are deciding Test matches?”
There is no doubt that Rennie’s comments will not be received well by World Rugby. The latter has only recently announced the verdict of Rassie Erasmus’s two-month ban after he openly criticising Nic Berry earlier this year.
When asked if he was aware of a possible World Rugby sanction, Rennie said: “No doubt, but how do I support our team? By biting my lip again and us getting apologies during the week?
“There were lots of decisions today [that] I’m not going to go into that had a massive bearing on the game. Our boys played with a lot of courage, and a lot of heart tonight, and we almost did enough to win that.
“Incredibly disappointing with the officiating. We will follow it with a report.”
The Wallabies will file a formal complaint highlighting where they believe the officials got it wrong.
They played with 13 men for 10 minutes and 14 men for 65 minutes but were still in the game during its final moments. However, it was Priestland who snatched the win at the depth to earn their third consecutive win over Wales.