O’Shea warns against knee-jerk reaction
LONDON: Conor O’Shea has accepted a change to rugby union’s rules is inevitable following Italy’s controversial ‘no-ruck’ ploy against England but warned law-makers against a “knee-jerk” reaction.
The Italy coach said World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, should delay any change until next season even though England boss Eddie Jones labelled the Azzurri’s approach a “joke’’, with Red Rose fly-half George Ford calling for immediate action to outlaw a tactic he said threatened to “kill the game.”
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont was due to hold informal at the global governing body’s Dublin headquarters with referees’ chief Alain Rolland concerning Sunday’s match.
But no formal action, if any, is likely until after next week’s Dublin meeting of World Rugby’s rugby committee at the earliest.
England won 36-15 on Sunday to stay on course for back-toback Six Nations Grand Slams as they extended their winning run to 17 successive Test victories.
But the result was overshadowed by the debate about Italy’s tactics.
The perennial underdogs remarkably led England 10-5 at half-time after repeatedly refusing to commit anyone other than the tackler to the breakdown, meaning no ruck was formed.
As a result offside became irrelevant and Italy players could stand directly between England’s Danny Care and half-back partner Ford.
Afterwards a frustrated Jones said: “If that’s rugby, I’m going to retire. That’s not rugby.”
The Australian added: “I’m sure Bill Beaumont watched that game today and will take some action.”
But O’Shea told Tuesday’s London Evening Standard: “It shouldn’t be done during the season and it shouldn’t be a kneejerk reaction because of one game.
“Will it be amended? I am sure it will at some stage, laws always are.”
O’Shea, previously in charge of London club Harlequins, said he was fed up with what he thought was the double-standard applied to Italy
“Wasps did something similar in a European game against Toulouse with Nathan Hughes intercepting the ball and it was tactical genius but when we did it then it’s something wrong.”
The former Ireland full-back added: “What riled me is that when England beat South Africa last year then it’s brilliant and when we beat them last year everyone says they are rubbish.
“Italian rugby has to think outside the norm or else it will never catch up,” insisted O’Shea whose side had suffered a 63-10 thrashing by Ireland in Rome in their previous match.
England’s Ben Youngs (left) tussles with Italy’s Maxime Mata Mbanda (right) in their match at Twickenham on Sunday.