Warren Gatland lamented the sliding-doors moments of referee Jaco Peyper’s injury and Guido Petti avoiding censure for a head-high cleanout on Nick Tompkins in Wales’ 29-17 Rugby World Cup defeat by Argentina.
Wales led 10-0 after 15 minutes against the Pumas at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Saturday, only to slip away and eventually out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage.
Dan Biggar’s try, conversion and penalty had Wales in control, only for Argentina to storm back, with Emiliano Boffelli firing over five penalties.
The Pumas claimed tries from Joel Sclavi and Nicolas Sanchez, to cancel out Tomos Williams’ score and send Argentina into the last four.
Referee Peyper suffered an injury in the first quarter of the match, to be replaced by assistant Karl Dickson for the remainder of the contest.
Then Petti was cleared completely for his shoulder connecting with Tompkins’ head at a ruck, with the officials citing the mitigation of the Saracens star falling down after making a tackle. Gatland was left to rue both issues, but also refused to hit out at either.
“It probably didn’t help the referee getting injured,” said a circumspect Gatland. “That was a little disruptive in terms of the game.
“We were 10-0 up, thinking that we could have taken a couple of the opportunities presented to us, and we gave away a couple of soft penalties that allowed them to go in with a couple of those before half-time.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in terms of feedback from the panel in terms of that contact from Petti.
“If he felt that Nick had dropped his height, and said it wasn’t foul play, I’d need to go back and have a look at it. I probably feel it is at least a penalty situation.
“Then on the back of that we felt Dillon Lewis was on the ball for a significant amount of time before they ended up scoring their try as well.
“Sometimes those things happen in a game. Big moments can swing things, that’s just the way it is.”
On the referee change, Gatland added: “It does throw you off. We were comfortable with Jaco Peyper and the relationship we have with him in terms of his control of the game.
“It is nothing against Karl but you do a lot of analysis through what referees tend to be tough on, what they look for.
“We hadn’t really prepared for the change. Sometimes that happens in the game and you’ve just got to deal with it.”