Reuters - Sun, 01 Aug 05:57:00 2010
Australia rugby chief John O'Neill has questioned referee Craig Joubert's red card on winger Drew Mitchell that left the Wallabies with 14 men for most of the second half of their 49-28 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday.
Mitchell was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle in the 28th minute and then sent off two minutes after the break for holding up play to prevent the All Blacks from making a quick lineout throw while on attack.
"You're scratching your head a bit to think that for 38 minutes we're down to 14 men because Drew, probably stupidly, threw the ball away at (a) lineout," O'Neill told state radio on Sunday.
"Unfortunately the referee had given a general warning ... but for a test match, it seemed a bit sort of out of kilter that you've lost one man because a player throws a ball away.
"It's not as though he punched someone or it's a dangerous tackle. But you've got to live with it."
Mitchell, who was cited after the game, avoided further punishment after a hearing on Sunday.
"SANZAR (South Africa New Zealand and Australia Rugby) Judicial Officer Peter Ingwersen ... found the sending off was sufficient penalty and decided no further sanction was required," SANZAR said in a statement on Sunday.
Mitchell, who celebrated wildly after scoring an early try before being sent off, however, was not granted a reprieve by Australian media, who cast him as a villain in the Wallabies' eighth consecutive loss to the All Blacks.
"(The Wallabies) continue to falter under pressure, waste opportunities, have absolutely no idea how to play well two weeks in a row, and believe the task has been done well before it has been completed -- as shown by the silly antics when Mitchell scored the first try only to look damned stupid when he was red-carded 40-odd minutes later," fumed the Sydney Morning Herald's respected rugby columnist Greg Growden on Sunday.
"This is a debacle, even prompting All Blacks coach Graham Henry to say if he was in a situation of eight straight losses he would feel 'sad'."
Mitchell said he had felt he had let everyone down after opening the scoring.
"It's hard for me to take any joy from that at the moment, watching the game unfold like the way it did is not a pleasant feeling."