Rugby: Michael Cheika defends Nick Phipps' unsportsmanlike play

Australia's Nick Phipps has come under fire after shoving an Argentina trainer to the ground this morning. Photo / Getty
Australia's Nick Phipps has come under fire after shoving an Argentina trainer to the ground this morning. Photo / Getty

In an incident Wallabies coach Michael Cheika admits you rarely see, replacement halfback Nick Phipps gave away a crucial penalty at Twickenham for shoving the Argentina team doctor to the deck.

The bizarre moment occurred during a break in play as several Wallabies were being attended to before a scrum, and the medic appeared to be trying to intercept a ball being thrown in to Phipps by the ball boys.

When the medic reached for the ball first, Phipps pushed the stunned support staff member who crashed to the ground sparking the all-in brawl.

Phipps' shove of the high-vis-vest-wearing medic drew an immediate and angry response from the Pumas players, who ran from across the field for retribution - with winger Matias Moroni knocking the Australian to the turf.

The incident was replayed several times on the big screen and ultimately Argentina was awarded a crucial penalty - in place of the scrum feed Australia were due to have - which reduced the Wallabies' lead to four.

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade insists he, nor his support team, saw the incident but it left Cheika bemused.

"No one (from the Argentina team) was injured, and Nick's probably trying to get ball - I'm really not sure what is going through anyone's mind to be honest," Cheika said.

"I think the ref dealt with it on the field, in the way he thought was best.

"I wasn't quite sure about the penalty."

Cheika said it was a rarity to see such actions on the field, but pointed out that assistant coach Nathan Grey copped a push mid-match by England's fullback during the mid-year Tests when a ball had been kicked into touch.

"It happens once in a blue moon. It's not something that anyone needs to prepare for," Cheika said.

"It shouldn't happen. That's just the way it was. He (the medic) was out there, the ball went out to him and he got in the way."

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