Australia wrote to the global rugby governing body to reiterate concerns about refereeing after the Rugby Championship test against New Zealand in Melbourne was tarnished by a controversial, time-wasting decision.
French referee Mathieu Raynal punished Bernard Foley for keeping the game on Thursday as the midfielder prepared to kick the ball from the 22nd minute of Wallabies a minute before the end of the test.
As New Zealand received the five-meter scrum ahead of the goal posts, Jordie Barrett scored a siren attempt to win a 39-37 victory for the All Blacks.
Raynal’s decision, virtually invisible in elite rugby, has been criticized by Australian coach Dave Rennie as well as experts around the world.
A Rugby Australia spokesman on Monday confirmed it has called on World Rugby to take seriously concerns about its role.
“It’s not unusual, and we’ve been lobbying the World Rugby for a while,” said a spokesman.
In recent years, elite rugby has been dominated by officials, and the increasing use of Television Match Official (TMO) to detect violations is causing more and more matches to start all over again.
The lower threshold for yellow and red cards to improve safety also had a big impact on the flow as the TMO and the referee repeatedly pause in each match, often spending a few minutes considering video footage of the incidents before making a decision.
Australia is not alone in expressing concerns about the state of the game.
England coach Eddie Jones said in July that he would be pushing for changes having had enough of the delays and “constant” use of TMO.
The loss in Melbourne saw Australia abandon the Bledisloe Cup, the trans-Tasman trophy for which New Zealand is contested every year, for the 20th time in a row.
Although Australia was feeling heavy after Raynal’s time-wasting call, several of Foley’s backline colleagues sensed the rush, waving and shouting at him to kick the ball, even as the team’s forwards remained crowded close to the goal line.
Foley said Friday he was trying to “really make it clear” what the Wallabies will do in the next lineout.
Prop Allan Alaalatoa said a group of leaders reviewed the incident to see how they could better handle similar situations in the future.
“I’ve never played a rugby match like this before, but we’ve learned it now,” he told reporters on Monday.
“We can only control what we can control, and you have to take the judge’s decision out of it.”
To win the Rugby Championship, Australia will have to break its 36-year streak with the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday and hope Argentina can beat South Africa.
The Wallabies will have to do without loose striker Rob Leota to snap his Achilles during a game in Melbourne.
Australia could also lose Darcy Swain due to a suspension, with the blockade pending a court hearing on Monday over the dangerous clean-up of All Black Quinn Tupaea.
Alaalatoa said his side was still suffering from the Melbourne result.
“We just want to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”