Phipps warned over medic clash
NEWS: Australia's Nick Phipps escaped with a warning after shoving a member of Argentina's medical staff during the Wallabies' 33-21 Rugby Championship win at Twickenham on Saturday.
Replacement scrumhalf Phipps had not long been on the field when the incident took place in the 67th minute. With Australia leading 25-18, the Pumas medic came on to the pitch and looked as if he might pick up the ball, which was 'dead' at the time.
Phipps then shoved him to the ground. His action led to players from both sides running in.
Once the brief melee was over, French referee Mathieu Raynal - who in the first half had yellow-carded Australia's Michael Hooper and Adam Coleman for high tackles - opted against sin-binning Phipps as well.
But he did award a penalty which Argentina kicked to cut the deficit to four points before the Wallabies pulled away late on.
Tournament organisers SANZAAR said in a statement issued Sunday that while Phipps had been cited for an act contrary to good sportsmanship, the citing commissioner - after reviewing the footage - deemed a warning "appropriate".
While Phipps may have been fortunate to avoid a yellow card, questions were also raised over the medic's presence on the field at that time.
"I'm not quite sure what went down to be honest. No one was injured. Nick's probably trying to get the ball, I really don't know what was going through anyone's minds. The ref dealt with it on the field. It happens once in a blue moon," Australia coach Michael Cheika said.
Nevertheless, there have long been concerns that teams' ever expanding backroom staffs make clashes like the one involving Phipps increasingly likely.
Cheika himself referred to an incident in June where England's Mike Brown pushed Nathan Grey during the visitors' 39-28 win in the first Test in Brisbane after the Australia assistant coach, albeit standing inside the technical area, tried to stop the fullback making a clean catch on the touchline in order to prevent a quick line-out.
"The English fullback had a crack at one of our staff because he put his arm out for the ball. It happens, it's usually a miscommunication or heat of the moment," he added.
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade played down Saturday's incident by insisting: "We didn't see it. We were far away."
The Twickenham clash came just weeks after Phipps found himself under fire for throwing away the boot of New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa during the All Blacks' 29-9 win in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington.