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'I'm sorry, I can't understand rugby' - Mortlock, SBW voice red frustration

By Ian Cameron
Michael Hooper remonstrates with Ben O'Keefe /Getty

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Former Wallaby captain Sterling Mortlock and retired All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams have hit out at the inconsistency of rugby union refereeing following a red card for Marika Koroibete just minutes into the series deciding Test match between Australia and France.


Koroibete was hauled up for a high challenge on France captain Anthony Jelonch off a kick-off reception just 5 minutes into the contest in the Suncorp Arena in Brisbane.

The French No.8 made the most of the collision by holding his face and rolling around on the floor for the benefit of the officials and referee Ben O’Keeffe duly sent off the winger with a straight red.

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Eighty cap Wallaby centre Mortlock was incensed at the decision, or at least the fact that a minute later an apparent elbow to Australia scrumhalf Tate McDermott’s chops went unpunished and didn’t even receive a TMO review.

“I’m sorry but I can’t understand rugby at the moment. Red card for Koribote yet one minute later this isn’t even looked at… Aren’t these laws meant to prevent concussion?’


He wasn’t the only one, with Sonny Bill Williams chiming in on Channel Nine’s coverage. Williams said ‘Very disappointing that the ref’s decision can determine the outcome of the game. We need to protect player safety, but we need to protect the game too.

“It doesn’t make sense to me.”

RugbyPass’s Tom Vinicombe posted: “Whether or not you think that should have been a red card (it shouldn’t), we can all agree that the French player performed one of the biggest Hollywoods we’ve seen in rugby in a long time, right?”


Aussie journalist Ben Kimber noted that red hadn’t, in fact, ruined the game: “If anyone you know suggested they would turn off after the red card, they’re missing a fantastic game.”

“Reckon I’m done with tweeting tonight. Because that just ruined a sell out crowd. Hundreds and thousands of people watching on the box. Series ruined,” Tweeted Rugby Report Card. “Game being killed in this country.”


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