Argentina coach Michael Cheika has slammed Australian referee Damon Murphy after four of his players were yellow-carded and they conceded 22 penalties in a weekend loss to South Africa.
Two penalty tries were also awarded against the South Americans when they attempted to stop driving mauls by the reigning world champions during the second half.
The Springboks beat the Pumas 38-21 on Saturday in a scrappy, penalty-riddled final round Rugby Championship match at Kings Park in Durban.
South Africa finished second, one point behind eight-time champions New Zealand, while Argentina came last with nine points, one less than Australia.
Cheika hinted last weekend that he was unhappy with the refereeing of New Zealander James Doleman in a 36-20 home loss to South Africa, but stopped shot of criticising him publicly.
“I promised my mother not to talk about referees anymore and I cannot lie to my mother,” the Australian told reporters in Buenos Aires.
Cheika broke his silence about officiating, though, after his side suffered a third straight loss in the southern hemisphere championship after winning two of the first three matches.
“After the first three rounds of the Rugby Championship, we were the least penalised team. It is not clear to us what we are suddenly doing wrong.
“It is very difficult to win games when decisions are made like this,” he said, referring to the 17-point defeat in Durban.
“At one point the referee told our captain (Julian Montoya) he has empathy for him. We do not need empathy, we need respect.”
Reflecting on the Championship campaign, which included a stunning first victory for Argentina in New Zealand, Cheika said they should have won at least two more matches
“We could have beaten Australia twice at home, instead of once, and after coming within two points of South Africa in Buenos Aires, we should have gone on to win.
“I also do not think the score in Durban was a true reflection of that match.
“The lesson we learn from our most recent game is how crucial it is to make wise choices when they matter most.”
Argentina will compete in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023, where they will face England, Samoa, Chile, and Japan. Cheika said that while Argentina is improving, they still need to adopt a winning mentality.
“Argentina is capable of winning more Test matches than we do. We need to abandon the idea that competing alone is sufficient. We must frequently succeed.
We must apply the many lessons we’ve learned from this Rugby Championship during our November European tour.
Argentina are scheduled to play England at Twickenham on November 6, Wales at the Principality Stadium six days later and Scotland at Murrayfield on November 19.