MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Referee Romain Poite warns Michael Hooper of scrum infringements   at Westpac Stadium.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Referee Romain Poite warns Michael Hooper of scrum infringements at Westpac Stadium. ROSS SETFORD

Wallabies want answers over ref meeting

RUGBY UNION: The Wallabies have made an official complaint to World Rugby about an alleged meeting that took place between All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and French referee Romain Poite ahead of the 29-9 All Blacks win in the Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington.

"We've reported it back there so we'll see what they do,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.

"As per the rules, we want to have the opportunity to attend.

"We don't have to go, but we want to have the opportunity, which we suggested again this week and didn't happen.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen denied there had been any meeting with Poite.

The latest World Rugby regulations allow for pre-Test meetings with the referee, but the opposition coach must also be notified and allowed to attend.

The Wallabies coach was fuming about perceived injustices in the second Bledisloe Cup clash at Westpac Stadium and the French referee's alleged refusal to engage with Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore.

Australia had a similar issue in June, with English coach Eddie Jones, and Cheika expressed his frustration over the lack of consultation, although he said he wasn't searching for an excuse after a 14th straight Bledisloe Cup series loss.

Hansen joked he was "shattered” by Cheika's accusation, but said the meeting simply didn't happen.

"It's quite sad that that's come out because it's not true” he said. "Unless you (mean I said), 'G'day Romain' in the morning because he stayed here at this hotel.

"I did have a meeting with (assistant referee) Jaco Peyper this week and talked to him at his request with Crono (All Blacks forwards coach Mike Cron) about some of the stuff that he had seen in our game.

"I'm a firm believer that we're here to support the referees,” Hansen added.

"It's a difficult game to ref so why wouldn't you have a meeting, but 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.”

Asked where he thought Cheika got the information, Hansen said: "I'm not sure, you'd have to ask Mr Cheika.”

Asked if he was "upset” at the allegation, Hansen said with tongue firmly in cheek: "Oh, terribly. Terribly. Shattered. We've got to be able to talk about something better than that, surely.”

Another issue which may upset Cheika further is the fact that prop Owen Franks has escaped a citing from Sanzaar after footage appeared showing his hand coming into contact with lock Kane Douglas' face in a maul. Cheika suggested it was an obvious foul play incident.

"I've seen the footage and I agree with the independent person who said there is nothing to answer for,” Hansen said.

- with APNZ



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