Super Rugby
Michael Cheika slams Super Rugby referees
July 14, 2013
The Waratahs' John Ulugia tackles the Reds' Rod Davies, New South Wales Waratahs v Queensland Reds, Super Rugby, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, July 13, 2013
Michael Cheika was unhappy that John Ulugia was penalised for this tackle © Getty Images

Super Rugby match officials are over-reacting to strong tackles, making the competition soft "touch football", Michael Cheika said after experienced referee Steve Walsh watched a replay before issuing New South Wales Waratahs hooker John Ulugia a yellow card on Saturday night for a jarring and seemingly legal chest-high tackle on Queensland Reds winger Rod Davies.

"I don't know if it was Aleem Dar proportions, but it was pretty crooked," Cheika said after the Waratahs' season-ending 14-12 loss to the Reds in Sydney, drawing comparisons with the Ashes cricket umpire missing Stuart Broad's blatant edge in the first Test against Australia at Trent Bridge.

"He had a second look as well. It was interesting listening to the third umpire, the TMO. He was saying: 'Do you want me to comment, Steve?' And he said: 'No, no, no. I'll have another look.' So he didn't want him to comment obviously. But I think everyone saw he put his arms around him. I don't know whether they should have had a kiss or not while they were in there. It's a shame because hardness is going out of the game. There's nothing illegal about it. It's a good, hard tackle, and that's what we try to get guys to do at training. Then in a game, as soon as someone puts in a good shot on, everyone panics. Like, give him the sin bin. I don't know, touch footy next year, maybe."

Cheika also said that touch judges should no longer be allowed to intervene on offside plays, claiming they were too inconsistent.

"I was really disappointed for some of the penalties for offside. They were absolutely wrong. Then, when [the Reds] are clearly offside at the end right in front of the posts, they don't give it.

"When we practice the hard line speed [in defence], what's the point? There's no point practising a hard line speed if you get penalised because, when they turn around, you look like you're in front when you're actually not when you watch the video. Maybe we'll go back to playing drift defence like the 1980s. Before that, I'd prefer to get the microphones turned off on the sidelines. I think they [should] leave the ref decide."

Queensland Reds defeated New South Wales Waratahs 14-12 in Sydney (video available only in Australia)

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