'He looked like he'd been shot by a sniper' - Rennie slams play-acting
The Wallabies claimed a fantastic victory on Saturday evening in Brisbane, overcoming an early red card to winger Marika Koroibete to beat France 33-30 in the deciding match of July’s three-test series.
Much was made during the contest of Koroibete’s early dismissal, with referee Ben O’Keeffe’s decision causing quite some controversy among fans and pundits alike – many expressing fears that the call might serve to affect the quality of the contest thereafter.
Fortunately, that was not the case, as the near 35,000 fans in Suncorp Stadium were treated to yet another close contest between these two sides. Three tests over the course of eleven days have all been decided by three points or less and some real quality has been shown at times by both of these relatively young sides.
Koroibete’s red card proved to nonetheless be an important feature of the match, not so much for its predicted effect on the test itself but rather for the debate it subsequently caused as to the officiating of such incidents in today’s game.
Occurring five minutes into the test, as France set to receive a restart having taken a 0-3 lead, Koroibete was deemed by O’Keeffee to have tackled French captain Anthony Jelonch high and directly to the head, having come from distance. O’Keeffe held there to be no mitigating factors in the tackle.
O’Keeffe and his assistants took their time to come to a decision but opinions still circulated post-match as to the appropriateness of the decision.
Although Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthié did not provide an opinion on the incident, Jelonch viewed the red card to be the “logical” decision.
Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie was far more direct in his views on the matter however, particularly of 24-year-old Jelonch’s actions after Koroibete had made contact.
“It was terribly milked wasn’t it,” said Rennie. “He [Jelonch] obviously feels he’s got some head contact, then he’s grabbed his face, which is nowhere near the point of impact and [his ‘reaction’] is delayed by five seconds.”
Rennie also, while stating that Koroibete’s charge would be appealed, drew attention to the muted ‘reactions’ of Wallabies Tate McDermott and Hunter Paisami in what Rennie perceived to be similar “red card scenarios”.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 18, 2021
“[They] don’t lie on the ground and milk it,” Rennie said. “Every time there is anything like a head shot the [French looked like they] had been shot by a sniper. The issue for us is, do we get to the stage where we’re telling our players to lie on the ground like the French did every time there is any head contact. I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the game.”
France took an early 0-10 lead after nine minutes, before Wallabies halfback McDermott in his first test start dotted down to bring the score back to 7-10. A Noah Lolesio try and penalty put the Wallabies 17-13 ahead before Cameron Woki scored for Les Bleus to see the score level at 20-20 heading in for the half.
Pierre-Louis Barassi finished a 90-metre play for a terrific French try but prop Taniela Tupou’s arrival after 46 minutes paid off when he barged over.
Both sides traded penalties after that, with each team missing one each as well, before Lolesio nailed the match-winner. With time almost up on the clock, Darcy Swain forced the turnover at a last-ditch French lineout to secure the victory, the Wallabies ninth-straight win at Suncorp.
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