Australia coach Michael Cheika accused Fiji counterpart John McKee of being two-faced and going against “the spirit” of rugby by referring winger Reece Hodge for a citing at the World Cup.
Cheika also suggested Monday that the citing went against World Rugby advice to the coaches last week, and undermined match officials.
The day after their Pool D game in Sapporo, Hodge was cited on Sunday for a dangerous, no-arms tackle that prevented Fiji flanker Peceli Yato from scoring a second try in the first half. Yato, hit in the head and neck area by Hodge’s shoulder, left the game with symptoms of concussion and was ruled out of Fiji’s second pool game against Uruguay on Wednesday.
Fiji players complained at the time to New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe and requested a video review, but neither the referee nor Television Match Official, who viewed the tackle from two angles, took any action. Australia rallied from nine points down to win 39-21.
While disappointed Hodge was cited, Cheika said “probably the most disappointing thing was the Fijians.”
“After the game we had a lot of friendly discussion between myself and the coach (McKee). He talked to our other coaches, there was no mention of anything,” Cheika said, “and to get a referral from them and the way it was referred, that was really disappointing.
“I don’t find the way they brought that (to be) in the spirit of the game at all. I prefer they come up to me, get upset with me if they are really upset with me, not talk to me in that nice, friendly, chitty-chat way and then go behind your back and put in a referral.”
Cheika said he believed Hodge will be cleared, but he was also annoyed that he was even cited.
“I was surprised it was cited,” Cheika said. “It didn’t even register with me. Hodge was thinking (Yato) was going for the corner and he cut inside. It was a good tackle for him to make. And he’s the one who got barreled in the end.”