HONG KONG : Australia coach Dave Rennie launched an uncharacteristic attack on the quality of officiating during the Wallabies’ European tour on Saturday after seeing his side suffer a third straight reversal with a late loss against Wales.
The 29-28 defeat in Cardiff followed losses against Scotland and England and came after the Wallabies were forced to play for 66 minutes with 14 men following Rob Valetini’s sending off.
Rhys Priestland kicked a penalty after the hooter to give Wales the win against an Australian team that played with 13 men for 10 minutes after Kurtley Beale was given a yellow card.
A succession of decisions by referee Mike Adamson and his officiating team, and in particular by television match official (TMO) Marius Jonker, left Rennie frustrated.
“I make a real point not to criticise referees and we hand reports in and we seek a bit of clarity about things,” Rennie said.
“We did that after the Scotland game, got a lot of apologies during the week in a game that was a two-point ball game and (then got) the same TMO, who made a mess of a decision in that game as well.
“I just think our boys deserve better than that. It’s not going to help us, getting apologies during the week. The game’s gone.”
Rennie conceded the decision to hand Valetini a red card was correct after the number eight’s dangerous tackle on lock Adam Beard resulted in a clash of heads, but defended his decision to go public with his concerns about the standard of officiating.
“How do I support our team?” he said. “By biting my lip again and us getting apologies during the week? It doesn’t change the result.
“The boys emptied out the tank for each other and we deserved a better result than that.
“I felt it was important that I spoke my mind. I’ve been a professional coach for 20 years and I’ve never gone into the media and had a crack at a referee or the referee group.
“But I thought I had to tonight.”
The loss means the Australians have gone without a win in a European tour for the first time in 45 years, although Rennie felt there were positives gained despite the defeats.
“We’ll reflect back on three games that were winnable, so that’s frustrating,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot.
“What we’ve highlighted hopefully to everyone back home is there’s a huge amount of courage and character in this group and we saw that again tonight.”
(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Christopher Cushing)