Australia complain to World Rugby after New Zealand refereeing decision

French referee Mathieu Raynal penalised Bernard Foley for holding up the game on Thursday

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Australia have written to the rugby’s global governing body to reiterate concerns about refereeing after the Rugby Championship test against New Zealand in Melbourne was tarnished by a contentious time-wasting decision.

French referee Mathieu Raynal penalised Bernard Foley for holding up the game on Thursday as the fly-half prepared to kick the ball to touch from the Wallabies’ 22 with a minute left in the test.

With New Zealand awarded a five-metre scrum in front of the posts, Jordie Barrett scored a try after the siren to snatch a 39-37 victory for the All Blacks.

Raynal’s decision, virtually unseen in elite rugby, was criticised by Australia coach Dave Rennie as well as pundits across the globe.

A Rugby Australia spokesperson on Monday confirmed it had urged World Rugby to take concerns about officiating in general seriously.

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“It’s not unusual, we’ve been lobbying World Rugby for some time on this,” the spokesperson said.

Elite rugby has become dominated by officials in recent years, with the increased use of the Television Match Official (TMO) to spot infringements making for more stop-start games.

A lower threshold for yellow and red cards to improve safety has also had a major impact on the flow as the TMO and referee halt action several times every game, often spending minutes to weigh video footage of incidents before decisions.

Australia are not alone in expressing concerns about the state of the game.

England coach Eddie Jones said in July he would push for change, having become fed up with officiating delays and the “incessant” use of the TMO.

The Melbourne loss saw Australia surrender the Bledisloe Cup, the trans-Tasman trophy contested annually with New Zealand, for a 20th successive year.

Though Australia felt hard done by after Raynal’s time-wasting call, a couple of Foley’s backline team mates sensed the urgency, waving and shouting at him to kick the ball even as the team’s forwards remained huddled near the goal-line.

Foley said on Friday he was trying to “get really clear” on what the Wallabies would do at the next lineout.

Prop Allan Alaalatoa said the leadership group had reviewed the incident to see how they could handle similar situations better in future.

“I’ve never been part of a rugby game where that’s happened before but now we’ve learnt that,” he told reporters on Monday.

“We can only control what we can control and you’ve got to take the ref’s decision out of it.”

To win the Rugby Championship, Australia will need to break a 36-year losing streak to the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday and hope Argentina can beat South Africa.

The Wallabies will have to do without loose forward Rob Leota, who ruptured his Achilles during the Melbourne game.

Australia may also lose Darcy Swain to suspension with the lock facing a judicial hearing later on Monday for a dangerous clean-out on All Black Quinn Tupaea.

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Alaalatoa said his team were still hurting from the Melbourne result.

“We just want to make sure we channel that in the right direction.”

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