Six Things from Six Nations - Round 3 - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Six Things from Six Nations – Round 3

Six Things from Six Nations – Round 3

 

Stuart Hogg - pleased with try

Image Courtesy: RBS 6 Nations

The Six Nations are back and served us some interesting bending of the rules, some angry coaches, some ruined campaigns, and a compelling setup for the final two weeks.


 Those Cheeky Italians

Where else to begin but the match that everyone is talking about. Eddie Jones had talked post-match about how he expected the Italians had planned something, but little did he think it would be this. The Italians cheekily exploited a rule in the rule book outlined here:

16.5 (c) Players joining or rejoining the ruck. A player joining a ruck must do so from behind the foot of the hindmost team-mate in the ruck. A player may join alongside this hindmost player. If a player joins the ruck from the opponents’ side, or in front of the hindmost team-mate, the player is offside. A player may bind onto an opposition player providing the player is not otherwise offside.

By not even committing themselves to the ruck, which stipulates that you must have your hands on a member of the opposition, this means the ruck never forms, which rules out the offside rule, allowing the Italians to come forward. Quite frankly, its genius. Cheeky as hell, and some may argue it isn’t in the spirit of the game, but its legal. They even cleared it when they meet Poite the day before. But I don’t blame the Italians. The rugby public have been getting on their back recently about whether they should even be in the Six Nations. To go out there and be different and leave an impression was a big middle finger to all that, and I think it was somewhat warranted. Regardless, like the previous weeks, their second half was pretty average and they let the English run away with it again.

Those Angry Englishman

Another week, another slow start for the English. Much of the team were left scratching their hands as to how they could combat the Azzurri strategy. This was a sight that in their seventeen-match winning streak, they had never experienced before. Eddie Jones, while praising Italy for their tactics, also commented that “it wasn’t rugby”:

“How can you have players standing in your attack line? Even when there were rucks, there were people standing in our attack line. You look to pass the ball and there’s a blue jumper there. You look in front and there’s a blue jumper there. There’s blue jumpers everywhere. He [Poite] had a terrible day. He wasn’t refereeing rugby… I feel like I haven’t coached today. Let’s be serious. It wasn’t rugby today.”

With all due respect to Eddie Jones, to me it shouldn’t matter to him what the Italians play. What matters is his teams result. His team won. 36-15. His claim would only have really mattered if the Italian tactics had made his team lose the match. He himself had been planning to “take Italy to the cleaners” earlier in the week. He expected that would happen, that the Italians would lie down and let it happen.

Talk about showing a lack of respect before kick off! The Italians made a game of it. They took it to England in a way never seen before in rugby. They did because they are now a team fighting for respect in the European rugby community. They refused to be once again that team that got routinely flogged, and demanded more respect. They deprived England of what they expected (a massive victory) and very nearly got the win.

Show that respect. England won Eddie. Your team won. You got the result you were going for. Shut up and move on.

Ref Watch

Poite certainly had an interesting night refereeing the match, including a comment that he made to the English when they asked about the rules of the ruck, that has since circulated around rugby forums and news rooms worldwide: “I am a referee, not a rugby coach.”

The Italians played by the book and Poite knew it. But outside of that, his calls raised raised a few giggles.  When he did blow the whistle for a Italian infringement, he let loose this comedy classic: “Advantage offside – the man with the beard.”

What was more worrying though came in the 58th minute.  When Jack Nowell apparently scored for England, Poite blew his whistle before Nowell put the ball down due to a suspected obstruction. He asked for the TMO advice and George Ayoub confirmed it. However, what if Ayoub had thought there was no obstruction? Would the try have stood if the whistle had been blown before the grounding? According to Lee Grant, Poite has done this before, in club rugby. Goddamn it Roman, keep your hands off the whistle! Take a leaf out of Nigel’s book please!


 

Winners and Losers

Enough of that game. In the other matches of the round, the Scottish defeated Wales at Murrayfield for the first time in ten matches, winning 29-13. God, I am loving watching the Scottish right now. They are a team that should command more respect from their opposition, which they may finally be earning judging by their current campaign. They are currently playing like men possessed, even without Greg Laidlaw. Who’d thought that after dispatching Ireland and Wales, they would be on the cusp of winning the Triple Crown? They still have to beat England at Twickenham though. No easy feat.

The Irish have too recovered from their first round loss to the Scots, dispatching Italy and now France 19-9 on the weekend in Dublin. The men in green have looked like they’ve begun to find their rhythm again, but by how much will depend on how they go against the Welsh next week in Cardiff. Should they dispatch the Scarlets, that should set up a thrilling decider against England in Dublin in the final week.


Looking Forward…

Speaking of the English, they now have a serious two-week period ahead of them. They are one match off from equaling the All Blacks record of eighteen wins in a row, and they can take some comfort out of the fact they are playing at Twickenham. The only negative is they are playing against an in-form Scottish outfit, who will prove a tricky obstacle. For the Scots, they have everything to play for: they have never won the Six Nations in its current form, and haven’t held the Calcutta Cup since 2008. It’s gonna be a cracker.

If the English do overcome Scotland, they may face an even more daunting prospect: Ireland in Dublin. If the Irish beat Wales, this match may prove to be the decider of the Six Nations, as Ireland have a larger points differential due to their demolition of Italy. If the English win, not only do they win the Six Nations and the Grand Slam, they also break the All Blacks record. It’s going to be an interesting two weeks.


 

What about France, Italy and Wales?

Well, while the Six Nations is still up for grabs for Ireland, Scotland and England, the same can’t be said for Italy, France or Wales. Of the three teams that may still have a chance, the Welsh are the clear candidates, after pushing the English in Cardiff. The Scarlets however have misfired in multiple occasions this tournament, so I don’t see that happening.

I see that happening even less for the French. Their quest to finish outside the bottom two has certainly not started in the right fashion, and the fact they’ve only scored two tries in three games may be something to do with that (even Italy have scored more tries than them!). While their quest to win back the Six Nations is as good as gone, they do have the potential to finish the tournament on a high, facing Italy in Rome next week and Wales at Stade de France the week after. Maybe that bottom two curse may break this year?

As for Italy… blimey, I don’t know where to start. They’ve been off the pace for the entire series, and its inconceivable to think they won’t finish last, particularly when you consider they still have to face an in-form Scottish team in the final round at Murrayfield. But, the one thing that is positive is this: they will take a huge amount of confidence out of their game against England. For one half, they had the upper hand against the tournament favourites, and that might lead to some success in the last two weeks. Only one problem: rugby is a game of two halves…

  • Kokonutcreme

    Nice write-up Nick.

    Agree with your comment that the outburst from Jones shows a distinct lack of respect for Italy for showing innovation and taking initiative against one of the powerhouse teams. How quickly some people can forget what it was like to battle for resources and respect when you’re a minnow nation.

    I wonder if Eddie will revise his earlier statement that England are only 7% behind the All Blacks – http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/international/89352833/eddie-jones-says-england-are-still-seven-per-cent-behind-the-all-blacks, because the team showed that they’re still not as autonomous in problem solving as they like to believe they are.

  • Lee Grant

    Good piece Nick,

    I don’t know what the fuss is about. I like Eddie Jones and his cheeky comments but he’s carrying on like a pork chop about Italy’s tactics.

    Blind Freddie could have seen what was happening – it’s not the first time that teams have done what Italy did – as Italy coach Conor O’Shea indicated post-match – just not so often in a game.

    Nor is it rocket science – if players are not in contact over the ball there is no ruck and it’s open play. The only constraint is if defenders get involved in the tackle area they have to come through the back gate – it’s not the same thing as being offside because no offside line was ever created.

    But the back-gate constraint means that they can’t encroach closely on opposing players on the attacking side of the tackle because it would be tantamount to involving themselves in the tackle area, and entering it illegally.

    The most amazing thing of the whole business is that professional players did not know the law on the matter – especially James Haskell who asked referee Poite for advice – and he wasn’t even the captain.

    What should the Pom players have done? Do what they did after half-time, after Jones had a quite little chat with them.

    If defenders are seagulling on your side of the tackle area, there can’t be so many in front of you; so you take it up the middle – and that’s what England did.

    It didn’t cease to become rugby Eddie Jones as you mentioned in the presser – and it’s your fault anyway. You should have had a runner come on and told your skipper to take it up the middle a lot earlier.

    Italy would have stopped doing it.
    .

    • Pearcewreck

      I disagree, I just don’t like the tactic.
      I think it’s sneaky, and pretty weak.
      Let’s face it, any time you have to “have a chat with the ref to discuss your tactics before the match” probably means those tactics are a bit dodgy.

      Just glad Italy got thrashed in the end, it’s what they deserved.

      • juswal

        The real story here isn’t what Italy did, it’s that England couldn’t cope with it until someone off the field had the chance to explain it s-l-o-w-l-y to the players.

        • Lee Grant

          Juswal said

          “The real story here isn’t what Italy did, it’s that England couldn’t cope with it until someone off the field had the chance to explain it s-l-o-w-l-y to the players.”

          Exactly.
          .

        • Kokonutcreme

          Looking deeper, England’s performances this year have been less than satisfactory compared to last season.

          Accepted wisdom is that the ability of a team to win when not playing to their best is a sign of progress.

          But England haven’t been playing well for an extended period which will be of concern for Jones and co. hence the smokescreen about Italy’s tactics. Nice deflection Eddie.

          Vern Cotter has got the Scottish boys building nicely for their clash next week and are worth a punt to upset the Poms.

        • juswal

          I think captaincy is part of the problem. Or maybe, there is a problem with tactics and form, and then the captain’s deficiencies are a problem on top of that.

        • Pearcewreck

          But is that what we want our game to be, some sneaky tactics that turn tit into a farce.
          I think it is farcical when a team get tackled, bodies clearly involved in the tackle, but some how it isn’t technically a ruck/maul, so the opposition can be offside all they want.
          The video I saw made it look like farce, a complete joke.

        • Who?

          The definition of a ruck is that it requires at least one player from each team ON THEIR FEET in contact, bound, over the ball. If there’s no ruck, there’s no offside. It’s been in place for years, it’s been exploited for years, by the Chiefs (the example many are using), by the Wallabies, by the All Blacks, by the Reds… It’s nothing new.
          What turned the game into a farce was England’s complete lack of comprehension of what was happening, of the legality of it, and their insistence on continuing to throw forwards into a breakdown that wasn’t there. All they needed to do was have those forwards grab the ball off the deck and run straight ahead and the Italian tactic was dead and buried!
          And ‘have a chat with the ref to discuss the tactics…’ When the Reds did it in the Tahs game in 2013, Link was counselled to check the ref knew the laws (he didn’t). But why not? Especially when World Rugby had clarified the distance around the tackle for the offside zone (the gate) during the previous week?
          Should we also make it illegal for defending lineouts not to tackle and form a maul? Or should we just celebrate the fact that Rugby’s a game where there’s multiple options in how to play succesfully?
          Last thing, if they’d tried that on against New Zealand, or Australia, or even Ireland, they’d have been slaughtered. They wouldn’t miss an opportunity for so much very, very fast ball! It really is an indictment on England, not Italy.

        • Pearcewreck

          “What turned the game into a farce was England’s complete lack of
          comprehension of what was happening, of the legality of it, and their
          insistence on continuing to throw forwards into a breakdown that wasn’t
          there”
          No, what turned the game into a farce was the Italians being offside constantly, yet, it isn’t offside because of a rule application that the Italians discussed and clarified with the ref before the match.
          It was sneaky, within the rules, but sneaky.
          It’s a weak tactic, I don’t think that’s what our game should be about.
          Regardless of who has or hasn’t done it previously, I still think it’s a sneaky tactic, and I’m glad they got thrashed.

          “And ‘have a chat with the ref to discuss the tactics…”
          Anytime a team have to discuss unusual tactics before a game makes me think they are probably dodgy tactics. This game hasn’t changed my opinion.

          “Should we also make it illegal for defending lineouts not to tackle and form a maul?”
          Not sure what lineouts have to do with it?

          Sucessful??
          They got thrashed

        • Who?

          First off, the Italians were NEVER OFFSIDE. If they had been, Poite would’ve ruled it. Rugby is about the contest for possession. But there’s no directive as to how that contest should be played out. Is it not in the spirit of the game if we don’t have a pilferer in every breakdown, having a dig? Or is it allowed that teams choose not to contest heavily there, so they can fan out and strike later?
          The fact that it’s cunning (much more accurate than sneaky – after all, players, referees and coaches from all nations have come out since saying, “Yeah, we knew about it, Toulouse did it against Connacht the other week…”) is a good thing. Our game isn’t a game written up by simpletons. It’s a game whose laws have long been curated by some of the finest legal minds, and this is a clear – and, given how long it’s been exposed, intentional – loophole.
          I’d argue that anything that requires the brain to work, rather than just relying on braun, is a good thing for our game. Especially in an age when we need to be very mindful of the deleterious consequences of too many collisions. CTE isn’t only caused by concussions, but also by the accumulation of sub-concussive hits.
          And do you want to know something further..? Last year, I considered getting my Under 12’s team to do the same thing against a particular team that ALWAYS throws three forwards onto the breakdown. First one goes in on his knees, hands on the ground, and the other two pile over him. If we had decent referees, it’d be a penalty every breakdown for sealing off. Our kids got it – they stopped contesting when they had numbers, and only started contesting when the carrier was isolated (home team supplies the ref, so even when our flankers had 4 digs at the ball on the ground before a ruck formed, there was never any reward). If I’d have had ANY form of confidence in the knowledge and capacity of the local comp’s refs, I’d have been telling the kids to forget the offside line and go stand next to their 10.
          So you’re ok with the fact that Pocock stole an intercept off Connor Murray last year and was ruled onside (it resulted in a try) using exactly the same tactic? Why do we need to change something that currently works? Look at Wayne Smith’s reaction, look at Sean O’Brien’s reaction, don’t just look at one reaction from a bloke who was trying to deflect from the complete lack of onfield intelligence shown by his team. Seriously – international players asking a referee what the law is?! What else do they have to do with their time, other than study the game they’re paid very good money to play?!
          And you’re ok with every nation raising opposition tactics with referees before games, just not their own? Because it’s normal for teams to meet with refs before games (Cheika’s an exception there – he just does it at halftime :-P). And better to discuss uncertain tactics before a game, to ensure that you’re not going out there deliberately breaking the laws!
          What lineouts and not contesting mauls have to do with the whole deal is that it’s exactly the same situation as not contesting a ruck. As pointed out by Koko. A maul is formed when a tackle doesn’t go to ground. A ruck can form when a tackle goes to ground. So, if a team chooses not to tackle the ball carrier in a lineout (in an attempt to get him to hand it back and create an obstruction, leading to a penalty against him), how is that any different to choosing not to contest a tackle and create a ruck? Further, if the referee doesn’t blow the penalty for obstruction, the non-mauling team is well within their rights to run around the players – into what would (had the maul formed) be an offside position – to sack the ball carrier. It’s EXACTLY the same situation. And in exactly the same way, overusing the tactic of not stopping the maul off the lineout provides an easy advantage for teams who set up to maul. Provided they do it legally (i.e. they keep the ball at the front).
          And successful? Yes, it was successful. They got thrashed by way less than they otherwise would’ve done. As Conor O’Shea said, Eddie was just filthy that England didn’t put 70 on Italy. Because if they did, then they could’ve lost at Lansdowne Road and still likely won on F/A (if BP’s were equal). But Ireland DID put 60+ on Italy, which means they’ve got a better F/A, and provided they win next week, they’re still a good chance at winning the 6N’s.

        • Pearcewreck

          Wow, thanks for the essay, but mostly TL:DR.
          Read you first line. The point is that they were only not offside due to a technical ruling regarding the ruck.
          That is the whole point!!!!!.

          As I said, rest of it is TL:DR.
          I have a life, not prepared to invest 1/2 or more hour to try and make sense of your ramblings.
          I’m laughing at this,…. seriously, if it takes that long too make your point, then, I dunno, go write a book or something.

        • Who?

          30 minutes to read what I wrote? Took me WAY less time to type and proof it…
          But maybe that’s the point… You’re actually not interested in the game, just what you think the game is. You’re not interested in something complex. You want black and white. But Rugby lives in shades of grey.
          And it wasn’t a technical ruling around the ruck. There were no rucks! No ruck, no offside. It’s pretty simple!

        • Pearcewreck

          You are wrong, wrong, wrong. (BTW, re previous comment, I was at work so no time, and your comment is still TL;DR) It’s a commennts section, huge slabs of won’t get read often.

          Law16.1 Forming a ruck

          (a) Where can a ruck take place. A ruck can take place only in the field of play.

          (b) How can a ruck form. Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball must be on the ground. If the ball is off the ground for any reason, the ruck is not formed.

          Hence, if you watch the replay, the ref got it completely wrong.

          11minutes 34 seconds, Italy 10 is clearly in physical contact with an opponent.

          Yet, Poite, says “tackle only.” Wrong.

          Again at 20 min 48secs, again at 21 min 2 secs, again at 35 mins 11 secs.
          At 51 min 6 secs it is absolutely disgraceful that he let Italy get away with blantant offside.

          It was as though he was eager to be oart of it, to go along with O’Shea’s tactics.

          Also, at all of the above Poite should have penalised italy, as below:
          16.2 Joining a ruck
          (b) A player joining a ruck must bind on a team-mate or an opponent, using the whole arm. The bind must either precede, or be simultaneous with, contact with any other part of the body of the player joining the ruck.
          Sanction: Penalty kick.
          (c) Placing a hand on another player in the ruck does not constitute binding.
          Sanction: Penalty kick.

          Remembering that 16.2 is not defining aruck, that is done in 16.1.
          16.2 stops players illegally joining, which Italy did at all of the above.

          Sorry to get technical,but a lot of people on here want to argue technicalities of the laws, so…

          In summary, Italy’s tactics were sneaky, the ref was wrong, wrong, wrong.

        • Who?

          First off, you’re right, the definition of a ruck doesn’t explicitly (anymore) state ‘over the ball’. It does say ‘close around the ball on the ground.’ And there are clear illustrations that the ruck must form over the ball, it must form within the gate (again, not technically a term in the laws, but it’s a term in the game management guidelines).
          At 11:34, the Italian 10 is acting as a pillar at the side of the breakdown. It’s not tradition to consider this player part of a ruck, he’s setting himself off the side of it, behind the breakdown. You see it at every breakdown. He’s not bound, he’s not creating a ruck. There’s no penalty there, there’s nothing there. Clearly tackle only.
          20:48 is about interpretation – it could go either way. You could argue that the tackler went to ground with the ball carrier, I could certainly see the argument that he was taken to ground by the English cleanout and that constituted a ruck. If you really wanted to be pedantic about it, you could also argue that, in taking him to ground, England had intentionally collapsed the ruck (16.3(c)), but that would be a very pedantic ruling. The reality is that this runs in real time, and every game has countless reffing errors, or decisions that are debatable. It’s grey, remember?
          21:02 the tackler went to ground with the ball carrier, no other Italian player was in contact at the time, it’s exactly the definition of a tackle.
          35:11, there’s nothing, originally. It’s a kick into the in goal which is grounded by the Italian 8 whilst he’s in touch and the ball’s still moving (so the ball should be taken back to where it was kicked, not a 22 as the touchie indicated – a mistake). Then they go back to review the kick through. Then they go to a series of replays, and, again a hand on the head in one breakdown. But it’s a hand on the head – it’s not binding, therefore it’s not constituing the creation of a ruck. And they’re behind the breakdown, so they’re not offside. They’re in a position to create a ruck and enter the ruck, but they didn’t do it.
          Poite’s explanation to Hartley at this point to Hartley is PERFECT. Perfect. This is immediately before the explanation, “I am a referee, I’m not a coach.”
          51:06 was perfect. The Italian looked at pilfering, but didn’t. Meanwhile, the English SHOULD have been penalized for sealing off – not one of their forwards was supporting their weight, and didn’t give the opportunity for a contest. So the Italian couldn’t bind on (even if he had bound, they were off their feet – no ruck can be formed), and therefore couldn’t create the ruck. That being the case – no ruck created – there was no possibility for the offside lines to be created. In that case, with Italy looking to contest, it’s actually England’s fault no ruck was formed – it was their poor (illegal, in fact) technique that created the no ruck situation.
          The four locations you’ve picked out, you’re saying that any form of contact with an opponent is the creation of a ruck, and Italy didn’t do it properly because they didn’t bind. Meanwhile, 16.2 (c) says ‘Placing a hand on another player in the ruck does not constitute binding.’ First off, they didn’t put their hand on a player in a ruck! There was no ruck. Because the practice is that you need binding. It doesn’t need to be mutual binding, but there must be a bind. How can you penalize someone for not entering a ruck properly when they didn’t actually create the ruck? They didn’t enter a ruck – they put a hand on, which doesn’t constitute binding, which means they’re not actually in the breakdown.
          The concept behind 16.2 (c) is an attempt to prevent blocking by forwards as we see done on every box kick, to prevent players from creeping around the side of rucks to hack at the ball (just as people can’t swim up the side of mauls), and to make sure people can’t put a hand on a ruck (unbound) to gain positional advantage when the ball is cleared (if you could just put a hand on the ruck, you could gain a 2m headstart on the gain line).
          So, out of four locations you’ve picked out, I’ve gone through, and there’s one that’s quite debatable, that could’ve easily gone the other way. But how often does that happen in a game with players not releasing and getting away with it, or not getting away with it? Rugby’s a game of grey – we like black and white, but referees operate in the moment and can only rule on what they see. 75% accuracy’s not actually that much different to the average game…
          From the incidents you’ve pointed out, Poite actually did quite well. And let me say, if you’ve ever read me reviewing Poite before, you’d know that it’s very, very, very rare for me to compliment Romain Poite!!!
          And no problem with being technical. I like technical.
          Italy’s tactics were cunning. But legal and fair. What’s wrong with a cunning plan?! England were extraordinarily inflexible and unintelligent in their response, and Poite looks to have had a good game. It’s very noteworthy that he was – loudly – calling when he believed a ruck had formed. Which means he was clear to Italy to get onside, and he was clear to England when they’d succeeded in forming rucks.
          The funny thing is I remember reading something by Bob Dwyer on here years ago about how bad a practice it is to form rucks, and how the ball should be kept alive if possible, if not, it should be popped off the ground… Because a ruck is a place for an attacking team to lose a ball or at least to lose time and allow a defense to reset. But England actually wanted those rucks, to reset themselves. It’s a very different philosophy, and yet we’re talking about a couple of coaches (Dwyer and Jones) from the same club.

        • Pearcewreck

          “The definition of a ruck is that it requires at least one player from each team ON THEIR FEET in contact, bound, over the ball.”
          You are wrong,

          Law16.1 Forming a ruck
          (a) Where can a ruck take place. A ruck can take place only in the field of play.
          (b) How can a ruck form. Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball must be on the ground. If the ball is off the ground for any reason, the ruck is not formed.

          No mention of “over the ball”.

          Hence, if you watch the replay, the ref got it completely wrong.
          11minutes 34 seconds, Italy 10 is clearly in physical contact with an opponent.
          Yet, Poite, says “tackle only.” Wrong.

          Again at 20 min 48secs, again at 21 min 2 secs, again at 35 mins 11 secs.
          At 51 min 6 secs it is absolutely disgraceful that he let Italy get away with blantant offside.

          It was as though he was eager to be part of it, to go along with O’Shea’s tactics.

          Also, at all of the above Poite should have penalised italy, as below:

          16.2 Joining a ruck
          (b) A player joining a ruck must bind on a team-mate or an opponent, using the whole arm. The bind must either precede, or be simultaneous with, contact with any other part of the body of the player joining the ruck.
          Sanction: Penalty kick
          (c) Placing a hand on another player in the ruck does not constitute binding.
          Sanction: Penalty kick

          Sorry to get technical,but a lot of people on here want to argue technicalities of the laws, so…
          In summary, Italy’s tactics were sneaky, the ref was wrong, wrong, wrong.

        • Kokonutcreme

          “Sneaky tactics that turn it into a farce”

          It’s all in the eye of the beholder isn’t it. There are several examples of tactics that are at odds with the “spirit of the game”.

          Italy didn’t contest possession at the tackle so no ruck is formed and no offside line.

          We’ve seen teams deliberately avoid contesting possession at lineouts to set their defence against the driving maul instead.

          We’ve seen teams deliberately avoid engaging at the maul, to negate the oppositions advantage.

          We’ve seen teams deliberately pull back on scrum engagements.

          We’ve seen teams deliberately milk penalties by passing the ball directly at an opposition player around the ball.

      • Kokonutcreme

        Did Italy get thrashed though?

        Last year they lost 9-40 against England.

        This year the result was 15-36 and they led at halftime 10-5.

        You didn’t like the tactic and in your eyes, the right team won – so all is right with the world.

      • Sorry, I’ve seen the tactic before, in fact (although I wouldn’t expect the England team to have watched it) it happened in a Welsh divisional game, the level under the Pro-12, about 2 weeks ago.

        The thing that made it weird on Saturday was that the English didn’t have a clue about how to react so the Italians kept doing it for a whole half! Players several tiers below them in Wales worked out what to do and countered it after seeing it twice – and suddenly, like it was on Saturday those players behind the tackle were in a terrible position to defend against a close drive, or a box kick and two or three chasing players. And “normal rugby” was rapidly resumed.

        If I were English (heaven forbid) I’d be embarrassed my players had to ask the referee to explain wtf a ruck was and why there was no offside line at the tackle so the Italians weren’t cheating. And then asking the referee for advice FFS. Pathetic display of brain power by the English.

  • Bardon

    Eddie Jones is just filthy that he and his team got caught with their pants down. They may have pulled them back up for the second half but now all his facebook friends are sharing pictures of his rosey cheeks.

    Fair play to Brendan Venter for coming up with such a fantastic tactic to help his team out and fair play to Conor O’Shea for listening to him. The juggernaut may have run over the cunning fox in the end but the fox gave them a run around they’ll never forget.

    Also kudos to Poite. He’s not my favourite referee but he knows his laws and he wasn’t intimidated by the crowed.

    Venter got the idea when a call went against them versus Ireland. When things go against you some people will whinge and moan to anyone who’ll listen and claim the sky is falling. Others like Venter will tuck it away and let it marinate and then use it to their advantage in the future.

    There’s no denying who the winning coach was on Saturday but the coaches who did the best work were all on the other side.

  • Patrick

    Credit to Frank Bunce who invented this tactic, albeit without all the details about rucks or no rucks, and to Sean Fitzpatrick who took it to a new level.

  • Patrick

    It’s a tough choice: England win, and the ABs are not the best anymore (but this would be injust if they then trounce the poms when they do meet them); or Scotland win, and there are just no downsides.

    Scotland it is then!

Rugby
@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

More in Rugby