Wallaby captain Michael Hooper took issue with referee Romain Poite’s first-half yellow card decision in Australia’s 15-13 narrow defeat to Scotland in front of a packed house at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Australia were trailing by seven points late in the first half. Hooper then scored a try, only to see it wiped out after the TMO spotted Wallaby prop Allan Alaalatoa’s “swinging arm” on Matt Fagerson.
The call didn’t sit well with a frustrated Hooper, who proceeded to verbally spar with Poite.
“You can’t be serious”, Hooper said before calling over Alaalatoa.
“I am serious, Michael. It’s not my action…”, responded Poite.
“Well it is because you’re the ref,” Hooper replied.
“We can talk after the game about my decision if you want. I know it is a big decision, but who did that, is it me or is it him? It’s clearly a swinging arm, it’s a big call I understand, but it’s a head contact and that’s a yellow card after no force.”
Poite was making his 72nd and final Test appearance as a ref. As with most officials, opinions vary at the mention of his name. He has no doubt left his unique stamp on the game throughout his career.
New Zealand fans will most likely remember him for his decision not to penalise Ken Owens for playing the ball in an offside position late in the third Test of the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour, opting for a scrum instead.
Alaalatoa yellow card and highlights:
Hooper’s reaction to Poite was
Michael Hooper: “You can’t be serious”
Romain Poite: “I am serious Michael”
— Autumn Nations Series (@autumnnations) November 7, 2021
Fortunately, things finished on a high note between the two. After the match, Hooper honoured Poite by presenting him with a didgeridoo.
Poite responded: “Thank you very much… As I told you, it’s been a big privilege to referee you because you’re a great player. I remember the World Cup in 2015 when you beat England. It was a great game. It’s always a big challenge us to referee you because you’re a good contest player and a good captain as well.”
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 7, 2021