FIRST it was the referee, then the fact that it was raining. But the list of excuses from Australians unable to accept that they were simply outplayed by Ireland in Auckland last Saturday has reached a new low.
In outrageous comments with little to substantiate them, legendary Australian centre Tim Horan has accused Ireland of deliberately faking injuries to frustrate the Wallabies.
In another example of extraordinary Aussie bitterness, the 1991 and 1999 World Cup winner said he was aware of the Irish tactics having spoken to Ireland backs coach Alan Gaffney – an unlikely scenario that Gaffney would surely dispute.
“Ireland had a deliberate plan to fake injuries each time there was a breakdown in play last Saturday, so they could slow the game down and frustrate the Wallabies,” he wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph in Sydney.
“How can I be sure? By talking to Irish assistant coach Alan Gaffney in the dressing rooms afterwards.
“If James Horwill was more experienced as a captain, he would have blown up about it to referee Bryce Lawrence and really created a scene.
“There is no way Richie McCaw would have stayed silent if a team used the same tactics against the All Blacks.”
The former inside centre went as far as to say that Kiwi ref Bryce Lawrence should not be allowed to referee another game at the competition for his performance last Saturday.
Horan claims that the game should be refereed according to the wishes of the general public and not rugby purists.
“The shame was that Lawrence destroyed the spectacle of the game. Ireland deserved to win and always would have won, but the way Lawrence handled the match means he should not get another game at the World Cup,” he added.
“It is about the spectacle, not just for the rugby diehards but general sports fans who want to enjoy this tournament.”
While commentators like Horan still seem unable to get over the Wallabies’ loss to Ireland, Australia coach Robbie Deans is keen to learns lessons from the game and move on.
The Australians, who play the USA tomorrow, prefer a dry pitch and an adventurous opposition but, after their 15-6 defeat in Auckland, they know they are going to have to adapt.
“It wasn't pleasant. The key now is to be better for it. We must heed the lessons,” Deans said.
And those would be?
“We were poor in our decision making, our discipline and around the contact areas,” he said. “Without those three components at a World Cup, you're killing yourself.”
Deans insists his side are not disrespectful of the opposition – an accusation that was made after their loss to Ireland.
Deans said: “It's a justifiable stance. You could say we were the most consistent side coming in (having beaten South Africa, New Zealand and Italy). But we dropped one. Maybe that is a good thing. It has to be.”
Australia v USA, Tomorrow, ITV1/Setanta Ireland, KO 9.30am