Australian rugby fans fume after next generation Wallabies dudded at world championships

Australia's U20 side feels hard done by after a bogged pitch cost them a shot at a wild title.

Australian rugby fans have been left seething after the country's best under-20 players were robbed of a world title opportunity amid farcical scenes in South Africa. Australia's final pool game against Ireland in the under-20 World Championship was cancelled after heavy rain left the Cape Town pitch unplayable.

Needing to win the match to progress to the semi-finals, the Junior Wallabies were denied the opportunity and have been relegated to the 5 v 8 play-off against Wales. Australia's appeal to World Rugby to play the game the next day was rejected, allowing the Irish a red-carpet passage to the last four.

Pictured left pitch ruled unplayable and right U20 Wallabies
Australia's final pool game against Ireland in the under-20 World Championship was cancelled after heavy rain left the Cape Town pitch unplayable. Image: Getty

Australian coach Nathan Grey, who played 35 Tests for the Wallabies, was fuming over the decision and hinted at some interference from the Ireland team doctor. Grey told Rugby Pass: "Bitterly disappointed for the players, the staff and everyone. The decision has been taken out of our hands and we don’t get the opportunity to play Ireland and finish on top of our pool.

"We played two games in the Rugby Championship this year - New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and ourselves - in much worse conditions, but a strong push from the Irish doctor seemed to work with World Rugby around cancelling the game. The boys are shattered. (We) trained in worse conditions two days ago and the boys were well prepared to play, so it’s an opportunity that has been taken out of their hands. I am sure World Rugby are doing it for the right reasons, I just hope they are true."

Officials attempted to try out the pitch the best they could but it was eventually called off. Image: Getty
Officials attempted to try out the pitch the best they could but it was eventually called off. Image: Getty

Asked what he would have done, Grey continued: "Play the game. The conditions are fine. The surface water is not really that bad. "Yeah, it’s boggy, it’s wet but no worse than any conditions Ireland have played in before and certainly we have played in before. The conditions were probably better than what we played our game against Italy (last Thursday), so it’s a bit confusing."

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Adding to Australia's anger, two matches scheduled after the Ireland fixture later went ahead on the same ground. One fan posted on the rugby.com.au Facebook page: "It’s called rescheduling to another ground or Day…it ain’t rocket science."

Another added: "Cancel one match that has a big impact but let the others go on??? Well played (Ireland), your WR mates have done you proud. World Rugby catering to Northern Hemisphere teams again."