Michael Cheika faces overwhelming criticism after Fiji comments

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has faced a huge backlash from the rugby world after he criticised Fiji for their referral of Reece Hodge’s tackle on Peceli Yato on Saturday.

Hodge felt the brunt of the Fijian runners on a number of occasions and was regularly rag-dolled by the athletic Fijians throughout the Pool D match.

The Wallabies winger managed to unintentionally get one of his own back late in the first half, concussing Yato with a tackle that many have deemed dangerous and worthy of a red card. Fiji subsequently referred the tackle to World Rugby, and Hodge faces a hearing on Wednesday which could potentially end his Rugby World Cup.

But Cheika has said that what Fiji did was not in the spirit of the game. Fiji coach John McKee did not approach Cheika about the tackle after the game, instead going straight to the Citing Officer – which Cheika likened to going behind his back.

The Wallabies coach has since been lampooned by former players, journalists and fans on Twitter for his attitude. Cheika has been accused of hypocrisy, seeing as his criticism of Fiji could equally be deemed against the spirit of the game, while others have questioned why Fiji would need to approach him about the tackle anyway.

McKee and his coaching team are perfectly within their rights to refer this tackle for citation, and unless Cheika feels it was an illegal tackle himself, he should have nothing to worry about. If he does think it was dangerous, then Fiji did the right thing to ensure acts like this do not go unpunished.

After scoring the opening try of the game, Yato was forced off the field following the tackle by Hodge, and Fiji never looked the same after impressing in the first half.

While a ban for Hodge may be justice for what many feel was a red card, it won’t help Fiji’s cause, as they ultimately lost the game and have now lost one of their best players for the contest against Uruguay as well this week. They are obviously entitled to feel aggrieved at the outcome of the tackle and will now be more than a little confused after Cheika’s accusations.