Australian under-20s coach Jason Gilmore has called for common sense to prevail after back-rower Pat Tafa was sent off for a high tackle in his side’s 56-33 loss to England in their final pool match.
The good news for the Junior Wallabies is they had already booked a semi-finals berth in the under-20s World Championship for the first time since 2011 and will square off against host nation Argentina in Rosario early on Tuesday morning (AEST).
Junior Wallabies coach Jason Gilmore addresses the squad. Credit:Brook Mitchell
Their hopes of making it three wins from three matches in the pool stages were all but dashed when Tafa was shown a red card for hitting England back-rower Aaron Hinkley high in a front-on tackle. Replays showed Tafa wrapping his arms around Hinkley, but the on-field referee told players there was initial contact with the “throat and head area” and that there was a “high degree of danger” associated with the tackle.
Australia struggled to find their groove and trailed 42-12 at half-time, but salvaged pride to outscore England in the final 40 minutes to secure a bonus point.
Gilmore certainly wasn’t happy with the call.
“He got Patty for a direct shoulder charge, which when you look at the video and you see two arms wrapped around him, I’m not sure how you can classify that as a shoulder charge," Gilmore said.
“It’s one of those things, they’re going heavy with high contact at this tournament – which I can completely agree with in terms of protecting the boys – but there just needs to be some common sense, which I don’t think we’re seeing at the moment.”
Australia has not made an under-20s final since 2010, while England’s early exit from the tournament is the first time they have not made a decider since 2012.
“It was a massive Test match and one we wanted to get up for,” Gilmore said. “I don’t think complacency was an issue. It could have really blown out in the second half. To outscore them in the second half shows the character of the footy team, so I’m proud of the boys’ efforts.”
Fullback Isaac Lucas said there were plenty of positives to take out of the match.
“We can’t use the red card as an excuse … we’ll be back,” Lucas said. “In that first half they just got too far out in front.
“Argentina are very passionate over here about their rugby and they will get up for the semi.”
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