While the Springboks and Wallabies Bloemfontein Test ended in a 27-27 stalemate, it wasn’t without controversy as this hair-pulling incident in particular fired up mans, and one coach in particular. Michael Cheika called it a non-issue, but ‘the vision’ shows otherwise.
Cheika has defended fullback Israel Folau after the former League star tackled winger Dillyn Leyds around the collar, then ended up pulling him down by the hair.
Folau was penalised for it at the time, but could perhaps have received a harsher punishment.
When asked about it by a journalist post match, Cheika exploded (see below), denying that it happened and instead claiming that Eben Etzebeth flew in with his elbows up in retaliation, causing a scuffle.
“Have you ever played rugby mate?” Cheika barked at the journo.
“If you have you’ll know that no one does that in rugby. Watch the vision. Watch the vision again. He got him by the collar. Israel didn’t take him by the hair. No one in rugby does that‚ forget about it‚ it’s a nonissue.
“Then the other bloke [Etzebeth] comes in charging with an elbow. He doesn’t make contact, but he was heading that way. The captain of the other team comes charging in‚ and just because he doesn’t get him [Folau]‚ nothing is said about it. What if he did? What then?”
When Leyds was asked about it, he confirmed that he was “100% tackled by the hair”.
“He actually caught me by the hair twice. He had one go at it. Then he got his left hand on it and pulled me down and had another go at it. I don’t know what their version is‚ but 100%, I was pulled by the hair,” Leyds, who was making his starting debut for the Springboks, said.
SANZAAR have yet to issue a statement about Folau, and likely will not at this stage.
View the incident below and the post match interviews in the video below that
Michael Cheika’s reaction and Dillyn Leyds’ comments on the incident: