Franks cleared of gouging despite Cheika fury

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 06:24

REACTION: All Blacks prop Owen Franks will not be cited for alleged gouging in New Zealand's 29-9 victory over Australia on Saturday.

A furious Wallabies coach Michael Cheika lashed out at Saturday's match officiating in Wellington after his side were crushed for the second consecutive week and said he was "bitterly disappointed" in French referee Romain Poite.

Cheika had hoped action would be taken after video footage showed Franks's hand move across the face of Kane Douglas in full view of Poite, who took no action.

"We saw it at the time," Cheika fumed. "I'm sure the match review will pick that up. It was pretty open, it would be pretty hard for the match review guy to miss." 

But the Rugby Championship controlling body, SANZAAR, said there will be no citings from the match and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believed the right decision was made.

"You've got to be really, really, careful until you see all the views. Social media, I think, were the people who alerted everyone to it and they certainly don't get all the views," Hansen said Sunday. 

"There's a process and that process has been followed."

Cheika, who complained of a high penalty count against the Wallabies, said he had complained to world referees' boss Alain Rolland "about the treatment to our captain and our players by Romain Poite".

Apart from the Franks incident, Cheika was baffled why lock Adam Coleman was yellow-carded for a late charge on Ben Smith while All Blacks hooker Dane Coles was only penalised for a forearm blow to Scott Fardy's head. 

"Maybe one person's head is more valued than another person's head," Cheika said.

"Maybe that's the way things are rolling at the moment." 

Australian news media reported that the Australian Rugby Union planned to lay a complaint with World Rugby that Hansen had breached the rules by having a private meeting with Poite before the Wellington Test.

But Hansen denied there was any meeting.

"It's quite sad that that's come out because it's not true," he said. 

"I certainly didn't have a meeting with Romain Poite. We don't meet the ref, we haven't for 18 to 24 months because it's just a waste of time."

Hansen confirmed he did, however, have talks with assistant referee Jaco Peyper, at Peyper's request, to discuss points in All Blacks' play after the Sydney Test won by New Zealand 42-8 the previous week.

Although the Wallabies have been comprehensively beaten in both Tests, Cheika was reluctant to give too much praise to the All Blacks, who are rebuilding after several senior players retired from Test rugby after the World Cup final last year.

"At this stage there's been the two games with us this year and they've beaten us by a handsome margin in both so against us, yes," he said when asked if the All Blacks would dominate the championship. 

"The rest of the games will be decided when they go up against those opponents. There's no point trying to predict what's going to happen." 

Hansen, when asked if Australia were not as good now as they were when beaten in the World Cup Final last year, was reluctant to criticise. 

"On the scoreboard it looks like we've done it pretty easy but I don't think anyone would say it was easy," he said. 

"The skill level of our guys was really good under extreme pressure at times. At the moment that's where we've got a little bit of an edge. But I don't want to sit here and bag Australia, they're one of our best friends."

Agence France-Presse

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