Rest Periods for Lions Players Between the End of the Lions’ Series and the Start of the Domestic Season

This first chart shows the number of days between the last Lions v New Zealand test (8 July) and the first time each of the Lions’ squad members for the final test, played in a competitive game for their clubs/regions/provinces.

lions minute to 1st domestic game.jpg

 

If we now show the bars coloured by “club” we see clear bands, where Lions tourists return en masse for their respective teams.

You can probably work out the colours yourself but if you can’t (green = Munster, blue = Leinster, black = Ospreys, orange = Wasps, burgundy = Saracens, red = Scarlets, light blue = Bath, yellow = Harlequins, dark green = Northampton, orange = Worcester and white = Exeter.

days break lions by club.jpg

To convert these bar charts in to the raw data we can see there is about a month difference between those that returned on game day 1 of the new season, compared to those who returned at the end of September.

days off chart

Not all of the players in this list had the same amount of game time in New Zealand and therefore a staggered return is to be expected. However, it does provide some evidence to explain why certain teams are performing well this season, while others have struggled.

 

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6 Nations Team Reviews – How Did the Teams Fare Against Expectations?

It’s all over for another year, but how did the teams fare against their pre-tournament expectations?

Ireland (above expectations)

Ireland were the best team in this year’s 6 Nations and deserved winners. Before the tournament began, there was talk of a Grand Slam showdown in Twickenham but it was the manner of Ireland’s convincing win against England that means they have even surpassed their own expectations.

Talk of a Grand Slam wasn’t on the cards in the final moments of the opening game, as Ireland struggled to break down a dogged French team, in a turgid encounter in Paris. It took an incredible series of phase play and a wonderful drop goal from Johnny Sexton to secure a win that had earlier looked lost as France took control of the scoreboard.

Sexton has to be the player of the tournament. The drop kick in Paris was an iconic moment but it was his wider contribution that caught the eye; the flat pass against Wales for Stockdale’s try, the high kick against England that Anthony Watson failed to manage, and the little things like the clever pair of restarts against Wales (covered here) that allowed Ireland to keep the pressure on Wales.

Sexton’s style personifies Ireland’s approach. There is the odd flash of high risk rugby but the main impetus comes from doing basic rugby exceptionally well, from continually applying pressure to the opposition until they break and from taking any scoring chances near the try line.

While Sexton may have been the stand out player and Murray and Stockdale deserve individual adulation in the backs, it was the cohesion of the forward unit that provided Ireland with the platform for the Grand Slam.

Ireland’s forwards are very well drilled. Each knows their role and what to do in different scenarios. They have a strong scrum and lineout, a powerful driving maul, a good defence around the breakdown and perhaps most importantly, the ability to keep the ball at the tackle and apply pressure to the opposition.

It may not always be attractive but it is effective. Against Wales we saw the ability of Ireland to have forwards pre-binding on carriers to aid the momentum in to the contact area and get them over the try line. Simple stuff which brought them 2 tries.

This is not necessarily a team in their prime, with a number of young players recently introduced to the test arena quickly finding their feet on the big stage – Jacob Stockdale (21 years old), Garry Ringrose (23), Jordan Larmour(20), James Ryan (21), Andrew Porter (22), Joey Carberry (22) and Dan Leavy (23) complementing the experienced players like Sexton, Murray and O’Mahoney.

The next test will be to win a series against the big southern hemisphere teams in their own backyard.

 

France (above expectations)

It helps France that their expectations are low. We have previously covered the fall and fall of French test rugby, so we weren’t expecting too much from Jacque Brunel’s team in this tournament.  France’s playing base and wealth mean they should be pushing for World Cup victories, not competing with Italy to avoid the wooden spoon.

Their final tally of just 2 wins suggests another poor tournament but we have already talked about the last minute defeat to Ireland, while victory against England and a narrow defeat to Wales suggests the trajectory is upwards.

Although this French team is harder to play against when compared to recent vintages, this isn’t the France of the 1980s or 1990s with carefree, running rugby played by rugby magicians. It is a pragmatic France, whose best player is arguably Mathieu Bastareaud, a tank in midfield who knows one way, run straight and hard.

Stop the likes of Bastareaud running through you and France’s attack becomes very one dimensional, as we saw against Wales.

France’s outside half woes continue as they again juggle their half back combinations, and Trinh Duc’s wayward moments against Wales may have cost them victory.

 

Wales (on par)

Wales thumping victory against Scotland was supposed to herald the start of a new dawn of running, high risk rugby as Warren Gatland moved Wales’ style towards that of the Scarlets. 4 games later and despite finishing second in the table, Wales seem in limbo; stuck between the Warrenball of old and the more expansive approach.

Warren Gatland would point to the Ireland game – where Wales were within winning distance in the last moments of the game, and to the England fixture – Wales were again not too far behind England in the last quarter, as evidence that Wales are close to being Grand Slam contenders.

This masks the real issues though. Against Ireland, Wales had just 22% possession and 16% territory in the first half, while after 80 minutes they ended up with just 31% possession and 25% territory. They very rarely have the majority of possession and territory. This doesn’t make the game impossible to win but it certainly makes it much harder.

Wales still persist with tactics that mean they give the ball away cheaply. Their clearing kicks from defence are often kept infield, while they frequently adopt a “kick high to compete” tactic in the midfield. This often results in Wales giving up possession and being forced to defend.

In the backs Liam Williams has looked a shadow of his former self, Scott Williams has struggled for form while the defence in the back 3 – regardless of personnel, has often been shaky.

The real issues though are in the front 5 where Wales lack of power, control and organisation give them a big disadvantage against the top teams. Of all the top nations, Wales’ driving maul is the least potent, while a lack of ball carriers means they struggle to get the forward momentum that will give their backs space.

Wales have had worse 6 Nations campaigns than this but the jury is still out on whether Gatland is getting the best out of this pool of players.

 

Italy (below expectations)

It has been a grim couple of months for Italy. Off the back of improved performances from Benetton and Zebre in the Pro14, there was renewed optimism that the Azzuri could take positive strides forward after a few lean years, but Scotland aside, this has been a tournament where Italy have gone backwards rather than forwards.

We were critical of the style of rugby Jacques Brunel brought to Italy and Conor O’Shea has been guilty of the same mistakes. Test teams should be set up to make the best of the assets they have, not to play a game plan that brought success to different players in far away countries. Put simply, Italy don’t have the players to adopt a fast paced, wide game plan.

It took them until game 5 to go back to their strengths; forwards carrying and hitting the ball at pace, driving mauls and an emphasis on retaining the ball. They looked a rejuvenated team against Scotland.

Matteo Minozzi and Sebastien Negri have been the stars of the show, with the former a real threat with the ball in hand and the latter showing numerous barnstorming runs and a real physical presence.

With the under 20s team showing some good form and the potential to develop a good crop of new players, the future is perhaps looking up for Italy?

 

Scotland (below expectations)

It was like watching the 6 Nations of a few years ago, with Scotland and Italy scrapping it out for the victory, but this was supposed to be a Scotland team who were going to be real Championship contenders. What went wrong?

This is tricky to answer but there is no doubt Scotland’s opening day hammering by Wales derailed their whole campaign and allowed those doubts about Scotland’s strength to resurface. In the Wales game their forward frailties were exposed but wins over England and France (both at home) shouldn’t be overlooked.

Maybe expectations were too high, or perhaps Scotland suffer from an inability to win away from home. Away victories have been hard to come by in this tournament, and Scotland find it harder than most.

Last season’s capitulation in Twickenham was thought to be a one-off, so heavy away defeats this season against Wales and Ireland, plus a scrappy victory in Rome, suggest that there is something in Scotland’s psyche that is inhibiting them away from Murrayfield.

Questions about Scotland’s best scrum half remain, Huw Jones has been a menace with the ball, while Finn Russell’s form swings from the sublime to the ridiculous. Like Wales, the front 5 continues to be a concern and it’s here that Scotland need to evolve to compete with the best home, and away, in the build up to Japan in 2019.

 

England (way below expectations)

It was always going to happen wasn’t it? Eddie Jones has led a charmed life as England coach, with northern and southern hemisphere teams being brushed aside with relative ease but that has come to an abrupt end.

Three successive defeats against Ireland, France and Scotland has meant this is the worst 6 Nations campaign for 12 years. The opening fixture against Italy was patchy and they also looked lethargic against Wales, but by the time they arrived in Twickenham to face Ireland, England looked devoid of ideas and energy.  To be beaten so convincingly in the final game, at home, would have been unthinkable a few months ago.

So what’s happened? There has been talk of England not adapting to the new laws around the breakdown but this is questionable. The new “interpretation” says a player must release the ball at the breakdown once an opposition player arrives, but we haven’t seen that being refereed at all this season, in any competition. Also, referees from the Aviva Premiership aren’t applying this interpretation when they adjudicate 6 Nations or European games.

England don’t have a true openside, but then again they haven’t for the last few years and it didn’t seem to harm them.

There were clues to England’s potential decline back in January, when the Aviva Premiership teams failed miserably in the Champions Cup, with a jaded Saracens scraping through to the quarter finals. We asked then on Twitter, if this would have an impact on England in the 6 Nations and it looks like it has.

We will post a separate article in the coming days, but the way England’s Lions players have been managed since the Lions tour and in particular the number of minutes of rugby they have played may have had a large factor in England’s below par performances.

Eddie Jones hasn’t made many friends outside England over the last few months. After this 6 Nations he may find fewer friends at home.

 

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Wales Outside Defence – Improvements Needed

Wales will probably be happy with the comfortable victory against Italy, even though they again allowed the opposition to have the majority of ball and territory.

In recent times we have seen that when Wales get the ball they look potent, with George North rediscovering a bit of acceleration, Steff Evans making some darting runs and Liam Williams always able to cut through the opposition line.  What these 3 players also have in common is a frailty when it comes to defensive decision making and execution.

Over the past few years Wales’ selection in the back three (full back and the two wings), has been dominated by the 3 players named above plus Leigh Halfpenny and Alex Cuthbert. There is no doubt they all have strong offensive attributes but defensively they are often found lacking.

Halfpenny is the exception to the general rule, with his strong ability under the high ball and good positional sense but even he sometimes struggles with positioning in the defensive line and making an effective, and safe, tackle.

Here are some examples from recent Wales’ games that highlight this ongoing issue.

 

Wales v Italy (March 2018)

Matteo Minozzi’s try in the 10th minute of the game was made possible by two errors by Liam Williams.

gif minozzi try.gif

Wales have a solid defensive line of 3 players in place, but as the Italian scrum half dummies to kick the ball through the gap, Williams drops back a couple of metres which gives Minozzi the space to run.

Williams still has a chance to redeem himself by making the tackle but the Italian’s pace and footwork were too good.

 

Ireland v Wales (February 2018)

After just 5 minutes of the Ireland – Wales fixture, Johnny Sexton threw an excellent flat pass to Jacob Stockdale to saunter in for the try.

gif stockdale try.gif

There is no doubting the execution by Sexton was top class but it was a lapse by the Welsh defence that allowed Stockdale the space. As in the Minozzi example, Wales aren’t outnumbered in defence; it’s just poor decision-making that are opening up opportunities for the defence.

In the first still (below) the ball has been released by Murray. Halfpenny isn’t even in the shot and is keeping a wide line to defend Stockdale.

stockdale 1.jpg

If we now fast forward a split second, Sexton has now received the ball (see below) and we can see Halfpenny angling in to try and tackle Aki. Does he think Liam Williams, inside him, isn’t in a position to  make the tackle? Is he concerned about Rob Kearny’s run off Sexton’s shoulder?

stockdale 2.jpg

Either way, we know Sexton’s pass missed Aki, and left Halfpenny floundering in no-man’s land between Ireland’s two outside players.

 

England v Wales (February 2018)

Johnny’s May’s opening try for England came from a mix up between Wales’ Rhys Patchell and their right wing Josh Adams.

As the ball is kicked in the air, Patchell is unable to take the catch and Farrell executes an inch perfect grubber to the corner for May to dot the ball down.

gif may try.gif

But where is Adams, Wales’ right wing? He has followed the ball and Patchell, rather than keep his width.

josh adams

 

Wales v New Zealand (November 2017)

Steff Evans had a couple of difficult days in defence in the Autumn and the New Zealand game in particular was a stark lesson in defending at the elite level.

In this first clip, credit should be given to New Zealand’s attack and Wales midfield defence is also suspect, but Evans needed to step inside earlier and make the tackle on Rieko Ioane.

Once Ioane had shrugged him off and the defensive line was breached, the try was inevitable.

ioane try.gif

To give due credit to Evans, he works hard to get back in to a position to make an attempt to tackle the All Black’s winger Waisake Naholo, but as the clip below shows, the tackle isn’t effective.

naholo try.gif

One of Evan’s weaknesses in defence is his predilection for just dropping his shoulder in to the ball carrier, rather than using his shoulder to drive in to the player.

Later in the game we see this same “shoulder drop”, as New Zealand score another try.

steff evans tackle bad.gif

 

Wales v Australia (November 2017)

Another of Steff Evans weaknesses is his inability to hold the ball in contact. in last Autumn’s game against Australia, he has the ball ripped off him by Kurtley Beale who has a clear run in for a try.

steff evans rip .gif

 

Wales V England (February 2017)

Wales lead with just minutes to go, before a Jonathan Davies clearing kick misses touch and England launch a counter attack. Seconds later, Elliott Daly has beaten Alex Cuthbert on the outside and the game is lost for Wales.

daly try.gif

We covered this try in some detail in this article last year, but it’s another example of Wales’ weakness in defence in the back 3 positions.

 

A recurring problem?

It’s worth saying that a mistake by a back 3 player tends to be more visible and higher profile than perhaps elsewhere on the rugby pitch, but nonetheless Wales have conceded a number of soft tries in the last 2 or 3 years from poor decision making and execution from their back 3 players.

These aren’t system errors, because in most of the examples Wales have the players in the right places to defend the attacks; the mistakes are coming from poor decisions and poor execution.

This often comes down to not understanding roles properly on the field or not trusting the players inside to make their tackle. Liam Williams should have stayed pretty flat in the defensive line against Italy and let someone else sweep behind, Halfpenny should have trusted Williams to tackle Aki for the Stockdale try.

Although Halfpenny’s defence is generally his primary strength (along with goal kicking), our concern is more about his personal safety in the tackle than his willingness to make the tackle, which is never in question. This has been covered in some depth here.

North hasn’t played too much rugby over the last year or two but he also has some major defensive frailties to work on. It’s a consistent theme for Wales – they have lots of back three players who are attacking threats but ensuring they remain strong in defence and don’t concede cheap tries is perhaps the priority for now.

 

 

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Contact With the Eye Area Examples – Louw, Sinckler, Earle, Francis, Ashton

Francois Louw (Bath) – October 2017

3 weeks suspension in Champions Cup tie.

 

Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins) – September 2017

7 weeks suspension in Aviva Premiership tie.

gif sinckler 2gif sinckler gouge 1

George Earle (Cardiff Blues) – December 2016

8 weeks suspension in a Challenge Cup tie.

gif earle 1.gif

Tomos Francis (Wales) – March 2016

8 weeks suspension in a 6 Nations tie.

Chris Ashton (Saracens) – January 2016

10 weeks suspension in a Champions Cup tie.

gif ashton gouge 2gif ashton gouge 1

 

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Ireland – Wales Review: Why Wales Lack Possession and Territory and What Ireland Do Well

This was a strange game of rugby. Ireland were dominant in most aspects and yet Wales were just 2 points behind at half time and only 3 behind as the clock hit 80 minutes.

Wales were clinical when they had the ball in hand in the Irish half; the only problem was they couldn’t secure the ball and so the pattern of the game was established, with Ireland dominating possession and territory and Wales scoring on their rare sorties in to Irish territory.

Wales’ lack of ball

Wales’ possession and territory were 31% and 25% respectively for the full 80 minutes but if we focus on just the first half, those figures drop to 22 and 16%.

We know teams don’t need the majority of possession and territory to win games but life is a lot harder if you don’t have the ball and good field position.

To find out why Ireland dominated the ball and what Wales were doing wrong, we have looked back through the first 20 minutes of the game and identified the playing patterns.

The first thing to say is that no team operates in isolation – they are always reacting to what the opposition does and Ireland are especially good at keeping possession and putting pressure on teams to make mistakes. Indeed, if we look back at Ireland’s percentage possession in games against tier 1 opposition we see they tend to dominate:

How Wales gave up possession

In the first 20 minutes of the game, Wales had possession just 13 times. This is how they gave up possession each time:

Clearance kick – 5

Kickoff or restart – 3 (including a drop out 22)

Conceded a penalty – 2 (off feet at ruck and Lee holds on to ball on floor)

Kicked away – cross field kick to Steff Evans from Biggar

Error – Scott Williams forward pass

Try – Gareth Davies

Just 2 of these periods of possession could be classed as anything like good attacking ball – the cross field kick from Biggar and the lineout on the Irish 22m line that led to the try.

Here we highlight a few aspects of the game which had a direct impact on the amount of ball Wales had compared to Ireland.

(1) Kick off and restart

Wales tend to kick off and restart games with long kicks to gain field position. This should gain them territory, but when Wales play against a strong kicking team, they often find themselves back towards the half way line in short time.  Look what happens when Wales kick off the game:

Stockdale has time to put boot to ball and it lands just a metre from the touchline, giving Halfpenny no option to move away from the incoming tackle. Wales secure the ball but are back on the half way line.

Just a few minutes later, after a successful Welsh penalty, Ireland have a restart of their own. Ireland split their forwards and Wales do the same, in to 4 pairs across the 10 metre line.

Sexton’s kick is perfect as it bisects the Welsh pods and allows Farrell to be the first player to the ball.

2 phases later and Ireland are awarded a penalty 30 metres out in front of the posts.

After Wales’ try on the 20 minute mark, Ireland kick off to their right but Wales have learned their lesson and their pair nearest the touchline (ringed in red) has come further in field.

Sexton spots this and this time he doesn’t kick it between the two Welsh pairs, he lifts it over the far pair towards the touchline for Earls to attack. Brilliant vision and execution.

The image below shows how the kick allows Earls to run on to the ball, which he very nearly takes (the ball’s location is ringed in red).

 

In contrast, with 14 minutes on the clock Dan Biggar restarts the game for Wales with a drop out on the 20 metre line but the kick is too long and only Steff Evans can get near the catcher – who happens to be Devon Toner being lifted, so Evans has no chance of the catch!

Again, it’s another restart where Wales concede possession and don’t have the accuracy of the kick, nor the forwards in the right position to catch the ball.

 

(2) Clearance kicks

Nearly half of Wales’ possession ended with them clearing the ball from deep in their territory. This is as a direct result of Ireland’s good play, but it also highlights a perennial Gatland tactic of kicking to keep the ball in play from a defensive clearance.

We have read in the press that Gatland believes if the ball in play time is high, Wales will win, and this must be a factor in him asking the Welsh kickers to not put the clearing ball in touch, but keep it in play.

After 15 minutes Wales secure lineout ball 10 metres from their own line and after 1 phase Dan Biggar kicks long.

As is often the Wales tactic, Biggar keeps the ball in play and Stockdale takes it between the half way line and the 10m line.

Stockdale plays a short pass to a supporting Kearny and he is tackled, with a ruck forming.

The net impact of this tactic is Wales have gained about 15 metres of territory from the initial lineout but they conceded the ball to Ireland, who can now build phases and get to attack a potentially disorganised Welsh defence.

Gatland thinks this tactic is a positive one, but our view is that the increase in ball in play time is cancelled out by the fact Wales concede possession and territory too easily by giving the opposition back 3 a free run with the ball.

 

How Wales can improve

Watching how Ireland played some aspects of this game should give Wales some pointers about how to improve their ability to secure and keep, the ball.

They need to place kicks in areas where they can compete for the ball and win it back, particularly off restarts and drop outs. The tactic of keeping clearance kicks in play should be revisited as it gives free attacking ball to the opposition.

We also saw in our article yesterday that the Irish tactic of pre-binding on the carrier made them important yards over the gain line. Wales should copy the tactic and when they have the ball reduce the space between their carrier and their supporting players.

It was a chastening day at the office for Wales forwards. We know Wales are perhaps the most lethal team in the 6 Nation when they get the ball, the problem has been securing good possession in the right part of the pitch.

 

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Ireland’s Forwards and Pre-binding on Carriers

If this was a boxing bout the referee would have stopped the fight at half time.  Ireland were utterly dominant in virtually every phase of play, and yet Wales were only trailing by two points went the whistle blew at the end of the half.

 

One aspect of Ireland’s game that helped them capitalise on their all their possession and territory was the use of forward binding on to a ball carrier, prior to engagement with the opposition defence.

Ireland are by no means the only team to adopt this tactic – Saracens use it all the time with a central carrier and two other players pre-bound to the main carrier before they make contact with the defence. The question is – given its effectiveness, why don’t all teams use it?

Ireland’s forward were dominant in the close exchanges against Wales and one way they made ground over the gain line is through the pre-bind tactic.

There are so many advantages to the move:

  • It provides extra weight in to the contact area
  • Two players joined together add more stability to allow the carrier to stay on his feet longer
  • The supporting player often acts as a block to make tackling the carrier harder
  • Once the carrier is tackled, the supporting player is at the breakdown and can help secure the ball for the next phase

Here are a couple of examples from the Wales game that led to Irish tries:

gif ireland prebind 1.gif

The first example (above) shows two Irish carriers hitting in to a solitary Welsh defender and making 2 crucial metres beyond the gain line.

Ireland win the ball back and this time it’s Leavy and Best who are used as a pair to carry in the next phase (see below) and are awarded a try.

gif ireland prebind 2.gif

The final example is again on the Welsh line, with Healy carrying and O’Mahony supporting. Note how Ireland are happy for the ruck ball to be slow, as long as this gives them time to set a primary carrier with a supporting player in position.

gif ireland prebind 3.gif

This isn’t a new tactic from Ireland. Here they are back in Autumn 2017 against South Africa, again using a player bound to the ball carrier to take more momentum in to the tackle near the try line.

gif ireland v sas.gif

 

Is it legal?

Yes. The current approach is to allow supporting players to pre-bind on to the ball carrier, as long as the tackler is not blocked or impeded from being able to make the tackle.

People often ask is this type of approach a flying wedge, but the law book has a very specific (but badly drafted) definition of what constitutes a flying wedge:

flying wedge definition

There are probably a few elements of this definition that are missing in the Irish examples we looked at earlier, namely the move isn’t played off a penalty or free-kick, the carrier doesn’t have the benefit of a large run up and the shape isn’t really a wedge formation.

For those readers that haven’t seen a flying wedge in action, here is an example from the 1995 Rugby World Cup between Argentina and England:

flying wedge gif.gif

We also know from various law clarifications that mention players pre-binding to carriers that this is something World Rugby permits. An example is shown here that looks at a flanker binding to a number 8 after a scrum before contact with the defence. There is no mention that this is an illegal act.

It’s simple rugby but very effective.

 

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A Brief History of Eddie Jones Respecting Officials

“We’ve got to trust the referees, respect their integrity”, said Eddie Jones this week, after the furore over Wales’ disallowed try rumbled on with World Rugby confirming that the TMO should have awarded the try (let’s ignore Steff Evans’ knock on for now!).

Jones went on to say, “I just think once the game’s done and dusted that’s the game, you can’t have retrospective refereeing of decisions being done. We’ve got to trust the referees, respect their integrity. When I say respect the referee, that’s the TV process as well, and then you leave it at that. One side’s won, one side’s lost.”

Great stuff – very laudable, but let’s rewind a week and focus on another of Eddie’s interviews in the build up to the England – Wales game. In Jones’ view the Welsh captain Alun-Wyn Jones had prevented the Scottish fly-half from taking a conversion in the preceeding weekend’s Wales-Scotland fixture. Referee Pascal Gauzere was there on the spot and decided no action was needed, but that didn’t stop Jones:

“All we say is just to be respectful [to referees]……It’s not great for the game and I’ve said something to World Rugby about it, I feel that strongly. We’ve got to respect the integrity of the referee in the game.”

How and why the coach of a team can discuss with World Rugby the actions of a captain of a team he is due to play is a whole different issue, but the point here is Jones felt unable to trust Gauzere to do his job in the Wales-Scotland game but just 7 days later he feels the need to preach to the masses that officials should be left to do their job.

It’s great to see Jones has such concern for the integrity of referees but does his track record back that up?

 

Fine for criticising a referee

In 2007, as coach of Queensland Reds, Jones was fined A$10,000 for comments made about referee Matt Goddard after a Super Rugby fixture against the ACT Brumbies.

Jones pleaded guilty to breaching the code of conduct and described the referee’s second-half handling of the scrums in the Brisbane match as “ludicrous” and “disgraceful”.

 

Italy and the ruck tactic

Jones wasn’t a fan of the tactic Italy deployed in the 2017 6 Nations clash, where Italian defenders stood off the tackle meaning a ruck wasn’t formed – and therefore no offside line was created.

The England coach was less than complimentary about the tactic and accused the French referee Romain Poite of being “flustered”:

“The referee got flustered – I have never seen a referee lose his perspective of the game [like that].”

Remember Jones’ comment about the TMO controversy and that once the game is finished,  “…..you leave it at that.”, well he took the opposite tack after the Italian game and suggested that World Rugby should “look at it”, meaning change the law (which is incidentally exactly what happened):

“I don’t think anyone wants to see a game like that. No-one likes to see rugby not played in its proper form so World Rugby will have to have a very close look at it.”

 

Owen Farrell and Australia

In the 2017 test between England and Australia, Owen Farrell was criticised by some for seemingly influence the referee to consult the TMO for an offence in the build up to Marika Koroibete’s try.

When quizzed about this after the game Jones said:

“If the referee accepts the way he [the referee] spoke to him was alright then that’s alright for me” 

And yet when Pascal Gauzere was happy with Alun-Wyn Jones’ conduct during the recent Wales-Scotland game, he referred the incident to World Rugby!

 

Not so nice guy Eddie

Eddie Jones has no interest in protecting rugby’s integrity and ensuring respect for officials is maintained, as his history has shown, but what he does have is an interest in using the media to influence both the governing body and officials.

Jones is undoubtedly an excellent coach but he is in danger of tarnishing both his own legacy and rugby’s values with these harmful and inflammatory statements.

 

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