Wallabies end 2583-day wait with Test series win over France
Frustrated Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has called out French captain Anthony Jelonch, saying the no.8 “milked” the penalty that led to Australian winger Marika Korobiete being red carded just minutes into Saturday’s series winner.
In what seemed a clear shoulder to shoulder clash, Koroibete was red carded in the fifth minute after referee Ben O’Keefe, on the advice of the TMO, ruled the tackle on the no.8 was direct contact to the head and neck, with no mitigation despite replays clearly showing the French captain’s body position dropping significantly in the moments just before contact.
The Wallabies went on to record a famous 33-30 win with just 14 men, with flyhalf Noah Lolesio slotting a tie-breaking penalty in the 78th minute and lock Darcy Swain earning a maul turnover in the 80th minute to seal victory.
Rennie said the win showed “amazing character” but was scathing of the moments leading up to Koroibete’s red card, particularly Jelonch’s reaction to the hit after the captain fell dramatically to the ground and clutched at his face after the collision.
“It was terribly milked wasn’t it,” Rennie said of the Jelonch penalty.
“He obviously feels he got some head contact and then he grabs his face, which is nowhere near the point of impact and it was delayed by five seconds.
“Tate McDermott, in an attempt to stop a try got a forearm straight in his throat, that’s a penalty red card and disallowed try but he doesn’t lie on the ground and milk it.
“Hunter Paisami got a shoulder straight to a jaw at the same time we had a penalty advantage from Len (Ikitau) being tackled high but again, Hunter doesn’t lie on the ground.
“Every time there was anything like a head shot, these guys have been shot by a sniper.
“I find it disappointing.”
Rennie had no quibble with World Rugby’s hard rules on protecting players’ heads.
Rather it was the French players’ reaction to any contact that irked him.
“Do we get to the stage where we’re telling our players to lie on the ground like the French did any time they get any head contact because I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the game,” he said.
“I definitely felt there were two red-card scenarios for them tonight. No doubt there’ll be some more follow-up.”
Jelonch said the decision to award a red card was “logical” and praised the Wallabies for how well they played after losing a man.
French coach Fabien Galthie twice refused to comment on the matter, deferring to his captain, saying he should comment as the player affected.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper argued successfully for Jelonch to be sidelined for an HIA - an assessment the French captain passed.
“I thought it was a great shot. I saw something a bit different to the referee,” Hooper said.
Koroibete’s send-off only steeled the Wallabies though, with Hooper rating the series win with a young squad among the most special moments of his career.
“You see our guys react when they’re in the change room and it’s just a huge reward seeing smiles on faces,” he said.
“We have the privilege to represent our country - and I know it might sound cliched - but we really mean it, and seeing genuine happy faces, we were able to supply that to a crowd tonight, it’s pretty special and something that will stay with us for a long time.”
Rennie said the win was a “massive”.
“To lose Filipo (Daugunu, to a suspected broken arm) in the first phase and then lose Marika a handful of minutes later, it showed amazing character and we’re incredibly proud of the boys and I think it’ll be huge for this group,” he said.
“(Saturday) night was just gutsy.
“I think we’ve been improving throughout the series and we’ve got a lot more in us.
“We put a lot of young men on the park tonight and they repaid us in spades. We’re creating good depth, we’re creating competition for places and this is massive for us.
“This is massive for us.
“It gives you belief, it highlights how hard they’ve worked with each other and for each other and it’s a hell of an effort.”Wallabies’ 2583-day wait over after red-card ‘travesty’
A courageous 14-man Wallabies outfit has overcome the controversial send-off of Marika Koroibete to notch a courageous 33-30 win against France and record an unlikely series victory.
It was the first time since the Wallabies’ series win over Les Bleus in 2014 that they had won a Test series on home soil.
An 80th minute maul turnover from Darcy Swain sealed victory for the Wallabies just minutes after Noah Lolesio kicked a tough penalty to break a 30-30 deadlock to seal a famous win.
But it was the red card handed to Koroibete just five minutes into the match that was the talking point.
World Rugby’s crackdown on high tackles has come under fire after Wallabies winger Koroibete was handed a red card for a tackle on French captain Anthony Jelonch.
In what seemed a clear shoulder to shoulder clash, Koroibete was red carded after referee Ben O’Keefe, on the advice of TMO Glenn Newman, ruled the tackle on the no. 8 was direct contact to the head and neck, with no mitigation despite replays clearly showing the French captain’s body position dropping significantly in the moments just before contact.
Once that call was made — with O’Keefe also noting speedster Koroibete had run from a distance to hit Jelonch with force — officials had no choice but to hand him a red card under rules introduced to protect players’ heads.
But the call came under immediate fire, with usually measured commentators Tim Horan and Andrew Mehrtens enormously critical.
“I’m all for the welfare of players in the game of rugby union but that’s a really poor call from the officials and Ben O’Keefe,” Horan said.
All Blacks legend Mehrtens called it an “absolute travesty”.
“They’ve painted themselves into a corner by saying it’s foul play and saying there’s no mitigation and I think they’re wrong on both counts,” he said.
While Super Rugby introduced a rule this season that allowed a red carded player to re-enter the match after 20 minutes, it was rejected for international play, leaving the Wallabies with 14 men for 75 minutes of the match.
The decision seemed only to steel the Wallabies though, who played their best rugby of the series in front of a crowd of 34,164, who were whipped into a fury early and found plenty of voice.
When France scored through scrumhalf Baptiste Couillard just minutes later and then knocked through a penalty to go 10-0 up after just eight minutes, the Wallabies seemed in for a long night.
But in a magnificent fightback, the Wallabies hit back with a try to hometown hero Tate McDermott that fired belief they could conjure a huge upset.
The teams were locked at 20-20 at halftime and while the French scored a magnificent long-range try just minutes after the break, the Wallabies refused to yield and kept alive their incredible winning run at Suncorp Stadium.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who made the key break that led to McDermott’s try, said he was “so proud” of his team.
“We love playing here, the crowd got us home so much,” Hooper said of a Suncorp Stadium winning streak that stretches back to 2016 against England.
While he missed a penalty to send his team ahead in the 58th minute, Lolesio slotted another two attempts inside the final 10 minutes for a personal haul of 23 points and was outstanding under pressure, as was Swain in the dying minutes.
Taniela Tupou was outstanding in 34 minutes off the bench, scoring a crucial try.
Koroibete’s red card was not the only early drama for the Wallabies, who lost Filipo Daugunu after just a minute to a suspected broken arm, while Lachlan Swinton limped off the field late in the match.
WALLABIES 33 (Tries: McDermott, Lolesio, Tupou; Cons: Lolesio 3; Pens: Lolesio 4)
FRANCE 30 (Tries: Couilloud, Woki, Barassi; Cons: Jaminet 2; Pens: Jaminet 2)