Rugby Championship

Cheika: Folau pulled Leyds' collar, not his hair!

2017-10-01 07:50
Dillyn Leyds (Gallo)

Bloemfontein - Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has denied that his fullback, Israel Folau, pulled Springbok wing Dillyn Leyds' hair in Saturday's 27-27 draw between the sides in Bloemfontein. 

Leyds was pulled to the ground by Folau in the 35th minute of the match, causing Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth to retaliate by going after the Australian and sparking a mini-brawl. 

Referee Ben O'Keeffe went upstairs to have a look at the incident, and as replays appeared on the big screen at Free State Stadium it was clear that, at some stage, Folau had a handful of Leyds' hair. 

O'Keeffe took no disciplinary action against Folau or Etzebeth, and the Boks were awarded a penalty for a high tackle. 

All involved parties were asked about the incident after the match, and while Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said the Boks would take the necessary steps in dealing with the incident, Cheika straight-up denied that his player had done anything malicious.

"He grabbed the guy around the collar," Cheika said.

"He gets penalised for that and then the other bloke (Etzebeth) comes in and charges, and doesn't get him (Folau) with the elbow, but he was angling that way, and nothing is said about that.

"He grabs the guy around the collar ... he didn't wrap his forearm around him or anything like that. That's a penalty ... that's fine. But then the other guy comes charging in, and he's the captain of the other team ... I don't get it."

When further probed on the issue, Cheika was even more adamant. 

"You've got to watch the vision (replay) ... he got him by the collar," the coach re-iterated.

"He didn't come in and grab him by the hair. Who tackles somebody by the hair? Forget about it ... it's a non-issue."

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was also in the dark about any hair-pulling.

"I didn't see any hair-pulling. I just got a word from upstairs that there was an elbow into Folau and that's all I can really comment on," he said. 

Leyds' version of events is, understandably, completely different. 

"100% the hair," Leyds, who made his first start for the Boks, said when asked whether Folau had grabbed his collar or hair.

"He actually pulled me by the hair twice. He had one go at it and then he got his left hand on and pulled me down again.

"I don't know what their version of the story is, but 100% he got me by the hair."


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