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'I just think our boys deserve better': Rennie clarifies why he's airing ref grievances

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

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The Wallabies have lost a thriller at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, with a Rhys Priestland penalty goal after the siren seeing Wales win 29-28 on Sunday morning [AEDT].

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After losses to Scotland and England, the one-point loss has seen the Wallabies lose all three of their Tests in the United Kingdom this year, after beginning their Spring Tour on such a positive note.

The Wallabies have shown this year that they’re a team capable of challenging the best teams of the world, having beaten reigning World Cup winners South Africa twice. Those two wins were the beginning of a five match unbeaten run, with the last victory coming in late October against Japan in Oita.

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While the Wallabies managed to record what may have seemed like an unlikely victory after going down to 13-men at one point, the performances and decisions from referees has once again come under fire.

On the field in a post-match interview, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie described the officiating in the Test as “horrendous”, before adding that “it played a big part in the result.” He specifically referenced yellow card to fullback Kurtley Beale, as well as a controversial try to Nick Tompkins.

While uncharacteristic for Rennie to speak out publicly against referees, he continued to explain his frustrations in the press conference after the one-point loss.

“I make a real point not to criticise referees and we hand reports in and seek a bit of clarity around things,” Rennie said. “But 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 the same TMO who made a massive decision in that game as well.

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“I just think our boys deserve better than that and that’s the reason why I spoke up after the game.

“It’s not going to help us getting apologies during the week, the game’s gone.”

Rennie went into detail with three key moments in the Test, that being the red card, yellow card, and the Tompkins try.

Wallabies backrower Rob Valetini was red carded just 15 minutes into the contest after a high tackle on Welsh lock Adam Beard, with the two appearing to clash heads in the process.

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While Rennie said that he doesn’t have a problem with that decision, the same couldn’t be said for the yellow to Kurtley Beale which happened shortly after. The fullback was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on.

He also drew parallels between that decision and the controversial try to Tompkins which you can also see below.

“I don’t have an issue with the red card because that’s the way it’s being refereed nowadays. Rob’s responsibility is to drop his height in the tackle and he didn’t and had a head clash so you’ve got to take that on the chin.

“I wasn’t happy with Kurtley’s yellow card. He’s making an effort to wrap two arms, it clips his hand on the way through, they find a yellow card for that?

“And yet Tompkins slaps the ball down in open play, somehow they say that didn’t go forward when he’s facing forward, and they get seven points out of it instead of getting a yellow card and us getting a penalty.

“There were lots of decisions today, I’m not going to go into. But I felt that it had a massive bearing on the game.

“Our boys played with a lot of courage, a lot of heart tonight, and we almost did enough to win that.

“Incredibly disappointed with the officiating. Obviously we’ll follow up with a report.”

Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was recently banned by World Rugby for comments he made about referees during this year’s British and Irish Lions series.

When asked about whether coaches and players worry about punishments for speaking out, Rennie respondent by saying “no doubt”, before continuing to share this thoughts.

“How do I support our team 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. So I felt it was important that I spoke my mind.

“I’ve been a professional coach for over 20 years. I’ve never gone into media and had a crack at a referee or the referee group, but I felt I had to tonight.”

While the result may seen as controversial, the Wallabies still did well to stay in the fight against the Six Nations champions despite playing at least one man down for a majority of the Test.

“We’re incredibly proud of the effort. That was massive. We said we were going to empty out the tank for each other and when you’re one short and two short, you’ve got to do that.

“Heaps of character and we got put under the blowtorch, and I thought the boys responded really well.

“Really proud of the guys but as I said, I feel they deserve better.”

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