Johannesburg — Argentina coach Michael Cheika has slammed Australian referee Damon Murphy after four of his players were yellow-carded and they conceded 22 penalties in Saturday’s loss to the Springboks.
Two penalty tries were also awarded against the South Americans when they attempted to stop driving mauls by the reigning world champions during the second half.
The Boks beat the Pumas 38-21 in a scrappy, penalty-riddled final round Rugby Championship match at Kings Park.
South Africa finished second, one point behind eight-time champions New Zealand, while Argentina came last with nine points, one less than Australia.
Cheika hinted last weekend that he was unhappy with the refereeing of New Zealander James Doleman in a 36-20 home loss to the Boks, but stopped shot of criticising him publicly.
“I promised my mother not to talk about referees anymore and I cannot lie to my mother,” the Australian told reporters in Buenos Aires.
Cheika broke his silence about officiating, though, after his team suffered a third straight loss in the southern hemisphere championship after winning two of the first three matches.
“After the first three rounds of the Rugby Championship, we were the least penalised team. It is not clear to us what we are suddenly doing wrong.
“It is very difficult to win games when decisions are made like this,” Cheika said, referring to the 17-point defeat in Durban.
“At one point the referee told our captain (Julian Montoya) he has empathy for him. We do not need empathy, we need respect.”
Reflecting on their campaign, which included a stunning first victory for Argentina in New Zealand, Cheika said they should have won at least two more matches
“We could have beaten Australia twice at home, instead of once, and after coming within two points of South Africa in Buenos Aires, we should have gone on to win,” he said.
“I also do not think the score in Durban was a true reflection of that match.
“The lesson we take from our latest game is that it is very important to make good decisions at key moments.”
Cheika said Argentina are improving but must develop a winning mentality ahead of the 2023 Rugby Cup in France, where they will play England, Samoa, Chile and Japan in Pool D.
“Argentina are good enough to win more Tests than we do. We have to get rid of this notion that just competing is sufficient. We must win regularly,” Cheika said.
“We have learnt many lessons from this Rugby Championship and must take them into our November tour of Europe.”
Argentina are scheduled to play England at Twickenham on November 6, Wales at the Millennium Stadium six days later and Scotland at Murrayfield on November 19.