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'I'm thinking of playing in goggles just in case'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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Wallabies utility back Tom Wright has revived memories of the infamous 2014 night when kicker Bernard Foley had his shots at goal distracted by Argentina fans beaming lasers in his direction. Australia fell to a 21-17 Rugby Championship loss at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza and they now return to that same ground for this Saturday’s tournament opener. 

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It’s not their first time back at Mendoza since laser-gate – they travelled there in July 2015 and won 34-9 with Foley scoring five of his nine kicks and were back there again in 2017 to win 37-20 with Foley landing five from ten. 

However, despite those successes, it was the mishap from eight years ago that a tongue-in-cheek Wright touched on ahead of this weekend’s round one encounter. Foley finished that 2014 night three from six off the tee after a laser pen flickered over his face when lining up a seemingly straightforward kick that would have put the Wallabies 20-18 ahead in the dying minutes. 

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Instead, following a match where he had been subjected to this laser treatment all through, his effort hit a post, enabling Argentina to go on and record a treasured home Rugby Championship win. The treatment of Foley mirrored what had happened two years earlier to Kurtly Beale and Mike Harris in a 25-19 Wallabies win and this subject of lasers was touched on by Wright in preparations ahead of their latest away match in Argentina.

“I’m thinking of playing in goggles just in case, just to rule out any sort of foul play or whatever,” he quipped at a media briefing (click here to view on the RugbyPass YouTube channel). “Nah. If there is a laser, there’s a laser. There is not much I can do from the middle of the field.”

In 2014, Foley had brought the issue to the attention of match referee Nigel Owens but no retake of his late miss was allowed. That differed from the previous year in La Plata when Aaron Cruden of the All Blacks was allowed a retake after an initial miss with a laser on him. Foley was philosophical at the time, stating: “It’s not great but I suppose it’s part of it. It’s not what made me miss the kicks so you can’t draw on it too much. It’s disappointing that it is here and in the game but it wasn’t the reason I missed the kick.

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“It’s not great. It was happening all night on all the kicks. I’m not too sure what you can do with the crowd there. It’s a bit like the soccer stuff that they do over here, the carry-on. You can’t be doing it. But how do you stop them? Maybe the re-kick will teach them, but who knows?”

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