McMillan refuses to blame officials after Chiefs final defeat

rugby25 June 2023 04:08| © Reuters
Clayton McMillan © Gallo Images

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan was left frustrated as his side's stellar season ended in disappointment on Saturday following their Super Rugby Pacific final defeat by the Crusaders.

The Chiefs slipped to a 25-20 loss in Hamilton as the Crusaders retained the title despite McMillan's side having finished on top of the regular season standings with only one defeat in 16 outings prior to the final.

"We threw enough bullets to win the game, on a different night maybe we would've got the job done," he said.

"There's nothing between these two teams, anyone could've won this game. Unfortunately, it wasn't us.

"The championship is defined on a few moments tonight, but a few moments don't define this team.

"I'm extremely proud of the season and the way we fronted up tonight."

Ill discipline cost the Chiefs, with Anton Lienert-Brown, Luke Jacobson and Sam Cane receiving yellow cards from referee Ben O'Keeffe. While McMillan refused to criticise the officials, he was unhappy with decisions made against his team.

"It's going to be tough to beat the Crusaders when you have three yellow cards," he said.

"It's one of those things where I'll have to have a good look and determine if they were the right calls.

"The referee obviously deemed it was. And I think that that probably played a part in the outcome.

"I don't want to bag the referee. The crowd did that at the end of the game, maybe that says something."

McMillan was particularly disappointed the Chiefs were unable to give a winning send-off to departing quintet Brad Weber, Brodie Retallick, Alex Nankivell, Pita Gus Sowakula and Bryn Gatland, who are all due to move overseas.

"We've got some pretty special rugby players that are leaving our environment, and they're going to be hard to replace," he said.

"But tonight won't define them. They're legends of the game, especially in this part of the world."