Scotland and Wales both crashed out of the Rugby World cup quarter-finals despite valiant efforts to create upsets. Scotland lost 35-34 to Australia, in a game decided by a controversial last-minute penalty decision that swung the match in the Wallabies’ favour. Video replays showed that the deliberate offside decision was incorrect as the ball had actually come off an Australian player. Referee Craig Joubert exacerbated the situation at the final whistle, as he immediately sprinting away from the pitch and down the tunnel in the wake of tens of thousands of angry home fans, without even shaking the hands of the two captains.
That incident marred a thrilling game, in which Scotland nearly overturned one of the tournament favourites, defying the pre-match predictions that pointed towards an Australian walkover. Scotland centre Mark Bennett put his side 34-32 up with just seven minutes remaining on the clock, but the hard work was undone in a moment of abysmal refereeing, with Australian fly-half Bernard Foley dispatching a penalty with little trouble. The television match official (TMO) is usually called upon to determine controversial incidents, but this particular case was outside that remit, raising serious questions about the limitations of the TMO.
Wales suffered an almost equally depressing 23-19 defeat at the hands of South Africa, who scored a try five minutes from the end. Much like Scotland, Wales were not expected to stand much of a chance against another of the favourites to win the World Cup, but a spirited display saw them come very close. Dan Biggar was the star man in the Welsh ranks, scoring 14 points, and setting up their try, including the penalty that looked like it would send them through to the semi-finals. Wales even led at half-time, taking a 13-12 lead into the break. However, the late try from Fourie du Preez deflated a buoyant Twickenham as Warren Gatland’s men failed to hold off the South African pressure.
Elsewhere, Ireland fell to a disappointing 43-20 hammering by Argentina. An experienced Irish side began the game awfully, conceding 17 points without reply in the opening quarter of an hour. From then on they were chasing the game and although a heroic comeback briefly looked to be possible at 20-23, but never came to fruition. Nicolas Sanchez kicked 23 of his team’s points as Argentina completed an entirely southern-hemisphere line up in the semi-finals.