Marika Koroibete sent off, shoulder charge vs France, Anthony Jelonch Test Rugby


The Wallabies’ final Test match with France has been met with controversy after star winger Marika Koroibete was sent off in the opening five minutes of the match.

With Australia trailing 3-0 at the time, Koroibete appeared to force a turnover with a big shot on France’s skipper Anthony Jelonch before the collision was sent to the TMO for a look at potential foul play.

While replays looked favourable for Koroibete, at least in the eyes of Nine’s commentary team including All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens, referee Ben O’Keeffe deemed Koroibete’s shot to be foul play with direct contact to the head and shoulder of the French skipper.

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The decision proved crucial with France responding immediately with a try to Baptiste Couilloud, to take a 10-0 lead at the time.

“I reckon Anthony Jelonch has tucked down into that,” Mehrtens said in commentary for Nine.

“I don’t think the target or the contact was ever higher than the shoulder.

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“If you watch that at normal speed, Jelonch as he takes the ball, then tucks his head down. I just don’t know how we can legislate to cater for that.

“Otherwise we will get players ducking their heads into every point of contact.

“Even though I’m living in Australia, that’s an absolute travesty and we need to hear more about this.

“They painted themselves into a corner by saying it was foul play and by saying there was no mitigation. I think they are wrong on both counts.”

Cross-code legend Sonny Bill Williams said Koroibete’s send-off was a reminder that World Rugby needs to take on a “common sense” approach.

“Very disappointing that a referee’s decision can potentially determine the outcome of such a big game,” Williams told Nine during the half-time break.

“Yes we need to protect a player’s safety, but we need to protect the game too.

“What I would like to see is a common sense rule come into play.

“The punter watching at home, he knows Jelonch is going to be able to get up and play the rest of the 80 minutes.

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“Why for contact like that, when he can carry on playing the game, are we going to rule out Koroibete for the rest of the game? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The decision to send Koroibete from the field resulted in severe frustration from fans across social media.

Former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri, who was one of many left scratching their heads, took to Twitter and labelled the decision as “embarrassing.”

The Wallabies had the last laugh, however, going on to win 33-30 and claim the series 2-1.

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