Scotlands skipper and head coach held an emotional and dejected news conference after a controversial last-gasp penalty by Bernard Foley earned Australia a 35-34 victory at Twickenham on Sunday (18 October) that broke Scottish hearts and sent the Wallabies into a World Cup semi-final against Argentina.
Scotland had been on the verge of a stunning upset with 79 minutes on the clock after an epic quarter-final, but South African referee Craig Joubert awarded Australia a penalty for offside, despite the ball appearing to come off a Wallaby shirt. Referrals to the Television Match Official are not allowed for such decisions. Amid a cacophony of boos, flyhalf Foley kept his composure to split the posts and ensure the World Cup would have four southern hemisphere semi-finalists for the first time.
After the match referee Joubert sprinted for the tunnel instead of making the usual round of handshakes. Scotland captain and scrumhalf Craig Laidlaw told a post-match news conference: Im not sure if it was, maybe you guys have looked at it on the TV, but Ive not had a chance. Certainly at the time I thought there was an Aussie arm but, I mean, were not going to, were not the type of people to blame little things and as I said, if wed tightened up in other areas we might not have been in that situation.
As for a referral, Laidlaw said: I asked him on several occasions, but I dont know what the protocols are on that. I think you could see from the way he was taking his time, he was certainly looking at the big screen, he wasnt sure himself, but you know, he made a sharp edge at the end of the game, thats for sure.
The Scottish skipper added: I think right at this moment in time its hard to take. Its a pretty, pretty upset dressing room, as you can imagine. I think weve made big strides since the Six Nations, if Im being honest and Im not just saying that. You know we were one kick away from being in the semi-finals of the world cup and arguably we probably should have been. So I dont really know what to say. I think well move forward, but nows not the time to - we need to get over the disappointment first.
Head coach Vern Cotter commented: I feel for these guys. Tough, tough day. We use cliches: fine margins. But they stayed in the game, they believed and they fought right to the end. Yeah Im very proud, proud of them; proud of them as men and as rugby players and you know, its a tough one to take.