Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has responded to claims from the All Blacks that Australia got away with illegal “off-the-ball” tackles in the opening Bledisloe Cup clash, saying his side had instead dealt with some concerns of their own through the correct channels.
Rennie admitted to being surprised by comments from All Blacks assistant John Plumtree about the Wallabies’ treatment of New Zealand fly-half Richie Mo’unga, whom the coach said had either been hit high or late on several occasions in Wellington.
“They see what they see, you know. If Paul [referee Paul Williams] missed stuff, then he’s missed it. But if it’s a consistent habit that he’s seeing and it’s not being looked after, then we’re disappointed,” Plumtree said Wednesday.
“There were some late charges and one or two other incidents but All Blacks don’t cry – we just get on with it and we adjust to how the game’s being refereed.”
Speaking to media after announcing his Wallabies team for the second Test earlier Friday, Rennie said the Wallabies had delivered their own feedback about Williams’ refereeing in Wellington – where they were on the wrong end of a 14-7 penalty count — but had done so through the correct channels.
“I heard it, I just thought it was a bit of a smokescreen,” Rennie said via Zoom. What we’ve done with all our feedback with Paul [Williams], we’ve gone through the right channels, we’ve sent some stuff into [World Rugby referees boss] Paddy O’Brien, he’s forwarded it onto Paul; I’ve had a chat with him.
“So in my opinion, we don’t need to air that stuff through the media. Are we trying to influence the referee for the next game and that sort of thing? You’ve got an opportunity to go straight to the referee. So I’m not sure whether he’s appealing to the masses, but I’m a little bit surprised by those comments.”
As well as the 14-7 penalty count, the Wallabies were also on the end of a howler from assistant referee Angus Gardner – who takes the whistle in Auckland – after the Australian missed Rieko Ioane’s foot hit the touchline in the lead-up to Jordie Barrett’s opening try last Sunday.
Replacement lock Tupou Vaa’i was then hugely fortunate to escape sanction for multiple infringements, just five phases after Reece Hodge’s penalty had dramatically struck the post after the fulltime siren. A penalty would have given the Wallabies a second chance to win the match from right out in front of the uprights.
Asked about the dodgy calls that had perhaps prevented the Wallabies from taking victory in Wellington, Rennie again played a straight bat.
“We’ve given our feedback directly to the refs, we’re happy with that, it is what it is,” he said. “There [are] gonna be errors from players and officials and we’ve had our say; like I said we’ll just deal directly with Paddy O’Brien and the referee.
“I just think that’s a better way to go.”