FORMER Scotland international Gavin Hasting has labelled the penalty decision by Craig Joubert that saw Australia steal a late quarter-final win over Scotland as 'one of the worst things he has seen on a rugby field'.
The South African referee awarded an offside penalty against Scotland in the final minute when the ball bounced forward off the shoulder of Scotland reserve Josh Strauss and was then handled by teammate Jon Welsh.
Bernard Foley slotted the penalty to secure a 35-34 win and booked Australia a semifinal clash with Argentina.
However, replays of the incident look to show that the ball didn't touch Strauss at all and that it came off the arm of Australian reserve halfback Nick Phipps.
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw said after the match that Joubert should have used the TMO, which wasn't possible in that situation.
If Joubert had gone against the rules and gone to the TMO, the penalty could have been over-ruled and Scotland would have held a two-point lead with less than a minute to play.
It was an act which angered Hastings and former England scrum-half Matt Dawson when they spoke in the immediate moments after the match.
BBC said Hastings reckoned it was 'one of the worst things he has seen on a rugby field'.
"That is the worst thing I have seen on a rugby field in a very long time. He is not prepared to face up to the players, that is not rugby and that is not the spirit of rugby," Hastings said.
"He should be sent home tomorrow, he should be punished and he should not be allowed to make an international rugby commitment again," Hastings added.
Matt Dawson said: "It's disrespectful to the game,"
Hastings tweeted: "If I see referee Craig Joubert again I am going to tell him how disgusted I am. It was disgraceful that he ran off the pitch like that at the end.
The referee is not expected to make the right decision al the time. That's what the TMO system is in place for. This is the quarter-final of a rugby World Cup. This is the highest end of our sport and they have to get these decisions right."
A bitterly disappointed Laidlaw said: "They go to the TMO for everything else...why not go for the TMO for that?"
Australian coach Michael Cheika thought it was the right call.
"It's a penalty and that's the way it works," he said.
"It works both ways in all games and that's life. You've still got to kick it once you get it."
British media reacts
The Independent described it as "A miserable weekend for Northern Hemisphere rugby".
The Scotsman reckoned: "A miserable weekend for Northern Hemisphere rugby was wrapped up as Scotland saw their World Cup semi-final hopes dramatically snuffed out by Bernard Foley's last-gasp kick at Twickenham."
Another former Scottish international Kenny Logan tweeted: "...inept Joubert should never ref at this level again."
Water bottle incident
Former Scotland international John Beattie also questioned why referee Joubert ran off the pitch.
Beattie is mystified as to what made Joubert run straight off the field at Twickenham, immediately after the final whistle. According to the Sydney Morning Herald Joubert was almost hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd when he left the ground.
He told BBC Sport: "I think World Rugby have to tell us why the referee ran off the pitch. Was he being threatened by Scotland players? I don't think so. Was a bottle thrown at him? Well, that's one idiot in the crowd. "If he ran off because he got the decision wrong, then that is a disgrace. "We lost the game, but the referee was a numpty. When you're Scotland, it feels as if we're the little nation, and the big guys get the decisions, but I might be wrong."
Once again, Joubert and Australian No. 10 Foley have provided a one-two controversial punch - it was Joubert's call against the the Crusaders Richie McCaw, widely condemned, and Foley's last-gasp goal which saw the Waratahs to a 2014 Super Rugby final victory.
Joubert was also the referee in the 2011 World Cup final, where many felt France were on the wrong side of many decisions in the one point loss to the All Blacks.
The Wallabies were the overwhelming favourites heading into the match but trailing at halftime and behind in the dying seconds at the match at Twickenham.
An uncharacteristically sloppy showing from the Wallabies, who played fast and loose and made far too many handling errors, helped Scotland take a 16-15 halftime lead.
But the controversial sin-binning of Scottish winger Sean Maitland for a deliberate knock-on in the 42nd minute proved pivotal in the contest, with Australia crossing immediately through Mitchell to snatch a lead which they wouldn't give back.
However, despite escaping with a win, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will have much to think about.
Even their famed defence, which had conceded just two tries through the pool games, cracked feebly as Scotland's Peter Horne snuck over untouched having picked up the ball at the back of the ruck.
The Wallabies' scrum, lauded after wins over England and Wales, also felt the pressure of the situation with loosehead prop Scott Sio frequently penalised, which Scotland halfback Greig Laidlaw happily converted into points en route to a 19-point haul of his own.
Sio's night went from bad to worse when he left the field with an injury to his right shoulder.
Australia had started perfectly, with a damaging Tevita Kuridrani bumping off defenders in the fifth minute before drawing the fullback to set up Adam Ashley-Cooper's first try of the tournament.
Ashley-Cooper had a second try taken away from him when the video referee found a knock-on at the breakdown by halfback Will Genia.
But the Wallabies were equally effective on the other side of the field, where Mitchell was the beneficiary of a superb cut-out pass from Kurtley Beale, who started at fullback in place of the injured Israel Folau (ankle).
Mitchell's two tries take his World Cup tally to 14, just one behind all-time leaders Jonah Lomu of New Zealand and Bryan Habana of South Africa.
Australia were put under immense pressure for the final 20 minutes when Scotland pulled within one point through a try to Tom Seymour, who claimed the spoils after teammate Finn Russell had charged down a meek Foley clearing kick.
But Kuridrani again came to Australia's rescue, crashing over from close range after Rob Simmons had won a lineout on Scotland's throw, to put the lead back out to eight points with 15 minutes to play, before the late game drama of Bennett's intercept try and Foley's last-gasp winner.
Australia 35 (Drew Mitchell 2, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper, Tevita Kuridrani tries, Bernard Foley 2 conversions, 2 penalties), Scotland 34 (Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett tries; Greig Laidlaw 2 conversions, 5 penalties). HT: 15-16
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