Warren Gatland: ‘Tough’ refereeing calls went against Wales

Warren Gatland: ‘Tough’ refereeing calls went against Wales
Warren Gatland felt his side could not build momentum - Getty Images/Charles McQuillan

Warren Gatland was notably unimpressed with referee Andrea Piardi following his side’s 31-7 defeat in Dublin, noting that the players on both teams were not “responsible for the amount of stoppages”.

Wales were penalised nine times in the first half alone, matching their total number of penalties from the previous two matches combined. Piardi took charge of his first Six Nations match and also became the first Italian referee in the competition’s history.

Noting that in the first half there were only 13 minutes of ball-in-play time, Gatland said: “I was disappointed with that first half, felt it was difficult to get momentum. We talk about the laws of the game, being positive and making it more attractive for the fans. I’m not sure the players on both teams were responsible for the amount of stoppages.

“If you go through the penalties, we questioned whether some of them were some pretty tough calls. We’ve worked hard in terms of trying to be accurate and not be ill-disciplined, giving away easy ins or outs for the opposition. When I looked at a number of those, there were a couple of offsides which are just there, but there’s a couple for sealing off which I thought were pretty tough calls. You get anyone on both teams on 30 or 40 occasions for exactly the same thing. We’ve got to take it on the chin. Even for that first-half, we came out and stayed in the game. I thought we showed some real character and fight, probably up to that 70-minute point.”

Warren Gatland: ‘Tough’ refereeing calls went against Wales
(L to R) Assistant Referee Gianluca Gnecchi, Referee Andrea Piardi and Assistant Referee Karl Dickson - Getty Images /Charles McQuillan

Wales captain Dafydd Jenkins, who gave away two of Wales’ penalties, added: “It was frustrating because we were killing ourselves a bit there. Obviously you have to respect his decisions because he’s only calling what he’s seeing. In terms of messages to players, we were just trying to stay as clean as possible.”

Despite that high number of first-half offences by Wales it was Ireland who overall gave away more penalties, finishing with 13 while also being shown yellow cards to Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan.

Andy Farrell, Ireland’s head coach, described Wales as “tenacious” and commended their effort. “We stuck at it and brought them down in the end,” Farrell said. “For the dominance that we had in the scrum in the first half, I felt we could have had a bit of a better lead going into half-time. But having said that, coming out in the second half I thought we were in the right place, but it was penalties all over the place and it was a bit stop-start, but we found our way again and found a way to get back going and get the result we were after.”