Monday Feb 27, 2017

Italy ruck tactics bemuse England and agitate coach Eddie Jones

Italy ruck tactics bemuse England and agitate coach Eddie Jones
103
Comments

England had a tough time adapting when Italy employed a breakdown tactic that we’ve seen used by a few teams before, namely the Chiefs in Super Rugby. It resulted in chaos for the halfbacks, and led Eddie Jones to state that it wasn’t rugby being played out there.

It has been called a Conor O’Shea masterstroke and while it provided some comic relief for neutrals, England players and fans were none too pleased with the tactic of Italy deliberately not committing to the breakdown. Thus, no ruck is ever formed, and there is no offside line.

Amusingly, England’s Nathan Hughes did the same thing at one point, to cheers from the home fans.

Italy disrupted to the point that they were trailing just 17-15 with ten minutes left in the match, and were actually leading at half time.

View the Match highlights here

Referee Romain Poite had to be on his toes and had a bit of a chuckle when he was approached by James Haskell and Dylan Hartley to give an explanation.

“I’m very sorry, I am a referee, I’m not a coach” was his response.

England’s Australian coach Jones was clearly agitated by it, not holding back in his interviews post match. “It wasn’t rugby, let’s face the facts,” he said.

“You’ve got to have an offside line to play the game. If that’s rugby then I’m going to retire. That’s not rugby. So if you paid for your ticket, ask for your money back.”

Below is raw footage, and then an amusing interview with Eddie Jones, who again, said it was not rugby.

Eddie Jones speaking to the BBC after the game, again mentioning cricket’s Trevor Chappell

103 Comments

  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Dallaglio definitely had an approach from Ireland (where his mum's from originally). Not sure about Italy.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Tbf Oliver, listening to half the referees round the world bastardise the English language with their heathen tongues, I'd say most of the British teams are already suffering that fate...

    Reply
  •  rdump0
    rdump0

    Fully agree. I think EJ's statement comes from his frustration of having been tactically outplayed for 70 minutes. Everyone including himself expected England to thrash Italy by at least 60 points. So it's easier for EJ to say "that's not rugby" (though he perfectly knows it is) rather than admit that O'Shea's tactics were great and that EJ and his players should have found the solution 60 minutes earlier in the game.

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    I would have loved to see the reaction of English fans/management had Italy actually won !! Just like I'd love to see a British team reffed in a language that is not native for them, just so they see what that's like....

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    #NotComingThroughTheGateGate

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Le Conspiracy..

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    you know the only reason I second guessed myself and thought this might not be serious is when I took your other posts in consideration, cause you usually make sense! I guess some British humor still escapes me after all these years....

    Reply
  •  grantkealey
    grantkealey

    While he was generally correct on most occasions, Poite has been way to much credit by pundits and World Rugby for applying the laws. Just watching the second video, it didn't take long to see that he missed/ignored a few occasions where a French player clearly touched an England player who was over the ball (11:37, 51:07 to name a couple), thus meeting the definition of a ruck. Even if the French player then takes his hand away, a ruck can't be undone. Also, considering he zinged Haskell at 35:11 by quoting law 15.6(g) he missed a sitter at 66:10 when Faz was tackled from behind. I'm not saying refs have to be correct 100% of the time but since he was made aware of Italy's tactics well before kickoff and decided he was going to be clever, he owed the game of rugby higher degree of accuracy in this match.

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    I feel your pain, i was 62kg when I turned out against armed forces 7s teams... also my first "Fijian flattening" aka the Samoan Sidestep

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    They are currently in division 2 of the Asia Rugby Championship https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia_Rugby_Championship#Asia_Rugby_Championship_.282015_onward.29 You can imagine how smooth the transition it was for 5'9, 72kg me to go from Thai schoolboy rugby to New Zealand adult rugby o_o

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Do they even have an international team?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I know England played poor in the first half, but I can't help think that it was both directly and indirectly linked to Italy's tactics.... Firstly England went out onto the field with a game plan, it was to put big points into Italy, and Italy instead of tucking the ball up when they got it and trying to play close "it's our ball" rugby, they starting 'giving' it back to England?!?! This must have firstly been a little strange and a hint something was off, then they sort of went "ok, give it to us and we'll use it" only to find that when Care picks up the ball he has no one to pass it to... From that point onwards mistakes were made in the managing of the game and the reacting to Italys tactics, but it certainly threw the English players, knocked them out of their comfort zone and id imagine their heads being so spun caused them to stuff up the rest of their game management.... You say England effectively ruined Italy from half time onwards, better than Wales did.... But England are clearly better than Wales...And playing at home..so they should in theory have put more points on Italy.. perhaps we'd be looking at 60+ points if Italy hadn't pulled a fast one.

    Reply
  •  ajv1beta
    ajv1beta

    I think what's interesting about this whole deal is how the narrative is in several ways slightly off. Firstly, talking about Italy using this as damage limitation was disrespectful - Italy came with a gameplan to try and win a match they badly needed to, after two big defeats at home. They gambled, doubled down on this tactic, and it worked for 35 minutes or so. Fair play. But saying it was merely a way to avoid conceding points belittles it. Secondly, I think the whole 'I'm a referee not a coach' comedy bit kinda painted England more as laughing stocks, and as Lawrence Dallaglio said on Twitter, there were a LOT of experts on breakdown laws quickly after the game. If you didn't watch Super Rugby you may not have heard of the Chiefs thing, and the Italy coaching staff only learned about it BY ACCIDENT after wondering why an offside wasn't called in the Ireland game. So chill. England weren't the only ones confused! Thirdly, as great as the tactic was, it's debatable whether it actually worked. I think England being so dreadful for the first half (Italy should've lead by more than five at half time) helped, but in the final reckoning, England outscored Italy 6 tries to 2 (3 more than Wales managed!) and the game would've been more comfortable way beyond 70 minutes had Farrell not misplaced his boots that morning. So fairplay, but once Care had the lightbulb moment just before halftime, the game was up for Italy. Fourth: Jones' comments were definitely an exercise in deflecting attention away from a poor England first half - about as bad as we've seen since the World Cup. If we start that slowly again against Scotland/Ireland, forget back to back Grand Slams.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    Well if it's going by where we grew up I'd be representing Thailand!

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    It should be fine. James O'Connor is my alibi for that night...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    How funny, aside from position and weight I'd say we are quite similar.... Although I think I may be able to squeeze in a 5th Nation out of the 6, and I have another one further a field... (Includes grandparents doesn't it?)

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    I've just spent my life being told I am either too foreign to play for an english team, or too english to play for a foreign team. Third Culture Individual since the late 80s

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    I qualify for 4 of the 6 Nations. 2 by parentage, 1 by birth, 1 by residency. Personally, I would choose to make my parents proud (1 of them anyway), but it depends who calls first. Would Tommaso Allan play for Scotland if Italy were ranked above them? You are taking it a bit too seriously, it is only in jest... I get the feeling that Italy may have contacted all of them first, and been turned down. I heard a story about Dallaglio saying no to Italy, but it is probably rubbish, the Amateur days were a lot different

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Lots of brand new names on here at the moment with trolling comments.

    Reply
  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    This comment is dope.

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    Maybe I'm taking this too seriously....Apologize if I do.

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    I stayed out of this whole debate because of lack of time but I just can't let this go unanswered. Players should represent the country where they grew up. Not where their family came from X generations ago. Or do you want "ethnically clean populations"??

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Let's not blow this out of proportion. Lots would snort with derision at your comments.

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Denis didn't exist until a few comments ago. Before you get too bothered wait and see what the general tone of his comments are like. My finger is hovering over the 'troll alert' button, but we'll see.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Well played DrG :)

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    The French police did a very good job of stopping O'Connor and Williams from getting a sniff of a line...

    Reply
  •  jeri
    jeri

    I think even the All Blacks maybe caught off-guard for a while, but you're right, in ten minutes Aaron Smith would have figured it out and start to snipe through the gaps in the defensive line

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I think as a lot of people are saying this tactic was good, but you can't do it for the full 80, teams like NZ would hammer you, give any of their forwards the opportunity to break through and you'd need the French police to stop them getting a sniff of the line...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    At least you weren't hanging out with your old buddy Ali... *Whistling as I just leave that one there*

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Well...It kind of is different...At least an oblivious front rower being clocked on the head is within the vicinity of the balls landing zone.... Rather than in an entirely different corner...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Mama Mia....

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    Italy would be a force to be reckoned with if Italian players played for them. How different would the rugby universe be if Campese, Dallaglio, The Sidoli Brothers, half the Scottish back line from 05-11, Cipriani etc. all represented Italy?

    Reply
  •  gonzoman
    gonzoman

    Hit enter too soon... Poite's interpretation of a ruck was not "a very non-common sense application of the rules" it was a literal interpretation and application of the ruck law. In any other game, a ref calling a cleanout on a prone player a ruck would be incorrect.

    Reply
  •  gonzoman
    gonzoman

    Disagree with your last point. A ruck, by definition in the law book, is "a phase of play where one or more players from each team, who are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground." Clearing out a tackler who is not on his feet does not form a ruck, it just clears the tackle area.

    Reply
  •  ronan
    ronan

    What a game of ruckby..... Fair play to oshea and italy.... it took the halftime break and video analysis to explain to the english forwards how to take to the game... very funny...

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    Is that a joke?

    Reply
  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    Brilliant article! Haskell is no Pocock really.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    I don't think it's that stupid. The defense starts running as soon as the ball is snapped, and the punt comes from behind them over their heads. It's not really much different to players, typically front rowers, being hit on the head by an up and under because they have no idea where the ball is.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    England could easily have had more points themselves off the tee, and on another day they would have scored more tries. They knocked on with the line in sight and Care's chip was poorly executed. If O'Shea needs a goal kicker, I think he'll be giving Dan Carter a call first. Assuming he can overlook my recent driving 'incident'.

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    I saw an interesting tweet saying that Italy's tactic should be viewed as the greatest compliment anyone has ever paid England since the 2003 World Cup

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Pretty sure I've seen a few examples of that American Football deception. I still don't get how a group of players can be that stupid. I know rugby players are sometime criticised for "ball watching", but to not have a bloody clue where the ball is just makes no sense to me.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Where Italy went wrong was trying to use it at almost every tackle situation. New Zealand were much more subtle about it, and no doubt their invisible black shirts probably helped too.... Came across this brilliant piece of analysis from last year, which shows a few examples of the Chiefs working this well, ballsing it up, and a couple of excellent ways to counter it - specifically David Pocock at his usual intelligent best, and Rene Ranger rearrangering the non-existent defence: http://www.the42.ie/analysis-chiefs-no-ruck-blues-backfired-2715116-Apr2016/

    Reply

  • Notice: Trying to get property 'data' of non-object in /var/www/html/php/vo/Comment.php on line 19
  • Romain Poite should have been awarded man of the match. His handling of the situation was quite remarkable. He warned the English players straight from the beginning, saying whether it was a ruck or just a tackle. Now if they cannot make the difference between the two, nor cannot find a solution without having to hear it from their coach, then too bad for them, and well done Italy.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    A thumbs up for Nubbin for slipping in a great pun which I think has gone under appreciated.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    That was probably the stupidest one dimensional blind as shit head down let's go piece of play I've ever seen in any sport.... I've never worn a 'gridiron' helmet, so I'm not sure how your vision is affected, but it says a lot for having a quick glance at things.....

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I understand it might have been petty, but have you not noticed in the past when games that are out of reach for some teams they tend to either play a B team to keep their A's safe, or they play their younger inexperienced players to blood them, nothing like baptism by fire.... Italy looked at where they are in the world of rugby, they looked at England and figured... Yup, they're stronger all over than us..Chances are they watched tapes on England and saw a repeating pattern of rucks leading to good field placement, perhaps something they felt England relied on. The Ford Farrell 10-12 pivot is so key with England, if you can disrupt it so they never get clean ball then it can't work... And maybe Italy said, if we play conventionally we'll get stuffed... So let's mix it up. It's certainly not infallible and certainly won't work for 80 mins, however it's a tactic that can be adopted and brought into their regular playing style because it DID work to some degree....

    Reply
  •  rich_w
    rich_w

    Yeah they were spanked but Italy have beaten Ireland, Scotland, France and Wales before. They have had great moments in the six nations playing what we might call 'normal' rugby. My gripe is that they are being praised for this performance. Look at Argentina, they looked at the best team in the world and said how can we be like them. And have come on leaps and bounds. Is this really progress for Italy? It was a tactic to piss off England, it worked. But that doesn't make it any less petty.

    Reply
  •  cluainoir
    cluainoir

    Hmmm, you seem to have forgotten how many tries Ireland put past Italy in Rome.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    Maybe my memory's going at the tender age of 26 but I watched that Wasps v Toulouse game and a fair few All Blacks and I don't ever recall them basically standing with the opposition in their back line? Perhaps they did execute that tactic but I don't they did as in your face as the Italians did here.

    Reply

  • Notice: Trying to get property 'data' of non-object in /var/www/html/php/vo/Comment.php on line 19
  • Reminds me of when the Rams were (are) a terrible NFL team and had to turn to outsmarting, not out playing, the opposition for points. This gem always comes to mind: https://youtu.be/8fioVbt7eF8

    Reply

  • Notice: Trying to get property 'data' of non-object in /var/www/html/php/vo/Comment.php on line 19
  • "Will any Italians have this saved to watch back at a later date?" Well the first half, I should think so anyway.

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    Maybe O'Shea watched Rocky II. Fight right handed, shock the favourite, then go Southpaw for the kill. Except Italy didn't have another hand to fall back on. Let's not forget Italy could have had another 15-21 points off of the boot. I'm still offering my goal kicking services to O'Shea, as long as he can hide me away from back row for 75+ minutes.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    What gets me is the fact that he was part of a team that developed 10 man rugby... Of course the RWC had a valuable input from many of the 10+ lot, but that get within 50m and JW can slot a penalty or a drop goal kind of stuff is also surely not real rugby either? Or is real rugby the same kind of rugby where you are allowed to score umpteen expected points and enjoy a 1st's V 2nds training match against another country...

    Reply

  • Notice: Trying to get property 'data' of non-object in /var/www/html/php/vo/Comment.php on line 19
  • The law change id like to c is the repudiation of the one meter around the 9 Law. Allow Italy their tactic and then allow them to attack the ball. That woulda Been fun

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    No it's not, the tackle area is designed to stop people playing the scrum half as soon as his greasy mits touch the ball, otherwise you literally hover over the bloke until he touches the ball then you sit on him... 1 metre gives him some small breathing room.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    I am stuck between 2 different views on this. Initially, I was impressed by it, and the game was like a tactical chess match. Italy thought outside the box and did the unexpected, and it worked for a while. England were slow to react and seemed unsure about how to respond. Some people have criticised England's slow response and their questioning of the referee. I don't think the questioning of the referee was ever disrespectful, Hartley and Haskell just seem bewildered by it. Secondly, I don't think any other international side would respond much quicker. I think knowing the laws is different to knowing how to react to the opposition using those laws in a way that is rarely seen. The players may never have come across this tactic in all of their time playing rugby. On the other hand, it was never going to work for 80 minutes. England were going to work it out eventually, and the breaks made by Care and Launchbury were evidence of this. A better chip, or a sidestep, and Care probably scores a try there. England still scored 6 tries anyway, and they were below par for long periods. Outside of this tactic, Italy were poor. Aimless kicking, missed tackles, awful goal kicking, losing their own line out etc. So I am starting to think it was nothing more than just damage limitation, done to spoil England's gameplan rather than actually win the game. O'Shea noted that other teams have used this tactic before, like the Chiefs, which is true, but they did not use it for 80 minutes. Using it once or twice to gain an advantage is different to using it constantly in defense. I hope it doesn't become a common feature in the game.

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Poite played it absolutely right. His job is to enforce the laws, nothing else. England couldn't work out how to play against it, and tried to get him to tell them what to do - that isn't his job. It's irrelevant how much time he spent discussing it with Italy. It was England's job to work it out, not the other way around.

    Reply
  •  denis
    denis

    If only it was only a few who behaved that way it wouldn't have been so obvious on the game coverage. Rugby has a great reputation for sportsmanship. Let's not let it slip. As for Eddie, Conor O'Shea summed it up by saying if you rub your opponents noses in the dirt and tell them how they are going to get a good kicking, don't be surprised if they come to spoil your party. By way of contrast the ABs do their talking on the field.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Well, certainly everything I've ever heard about the bloke, from people more in-the-know than I am, would seem to back that up.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Yeah, I did wonder if that was a subtle dig at sponsors taking up too much of the players' time, after the O2 Inside Line bowling episode...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Totally agree with you mate, I think Italy has been insulted over and over and I think the way they reacted this time was brilliant, of course it didn't pay off completely but it really worked. I remember seeing games between NH and SH teams where the NH teams decide to slow the game right down (within the laws) so it suits their hard up front stuff!

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Actually, Poite stated the law, what he didn't do was answer Haskell's pleas of "what do we need to do?"

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    also - the reason that the tackle area is defined, as shown in the video is to prevent players running round and blocking the scrum half passing. That is exactly what happened this time.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    yes - i've probably gone over the top there... I just think he could have been a bit more sympathetic to the question being asked based on the amount of time he would have spent discussing with Italy the day before. I've got no issue with what Italy did

    Reply
  •  nubbin
    nubbin

    Don't be so pathetic. The vast majority of England supporters (no inverted commas required) are, like most rugby crowds, knowledgeable about the game, love the spectacle, enjoy the craic of going to rugby matches, and enjoy the company of fellow fans from their own side and the opposition. There may be boorishness from a few, but there are the same boors in every crowd from whatever nation. Try a Springboks game if you want some real "boerishness."

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Jones said "I'm not critical of Italy, they did what they needed to do to stay in the game." You can't attribute Benaud's statements to Jones. I don't have an issue with the underarm bowling incident and I don't have an issue with what Italy did either. But I'm glad they changed the cricket laws and if something is needed to be done to change the rugby laws then I hope it gets done (although I doubt the do need to make any changes) I don' think Poite's explanation was detailed enough considering he had given specific advice on this to the Italian's the day before. There is nothing wrong with what he told the Italians, but if a player asks for an explanation of a law because they feel the understanding of the law if impacting the game, and that law (and World rugby recent application) was specifically discussed with the opposition the day before, a little sympathy from the referee would to take a little longer in explaining the situation. Agreed they should have adapted more quickly though.

    Reply
  •  rich_w
    rich_w

    Watching the game live, without ref-link. I think the vast majority of people would've been wondering what the hell was going on.

    Reply
  •  hoot
    hoot

    I guess being a world cup hero and being a bell-end aren't mutually exclusive, so perhaps he has always been the latter?

    Reply
  •  hoot
    hoot

    He did take them ten-pin bowling!

    Reply
  •  hoot
    hoot

    But I guess Denis was just referring to the England fans at Twickenham.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    "I genuinely think ANY team would have been equally as baffled"- New Zealand wouldn't because they've been doing it for years: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/all-blacks/71011642/strang-all-blacks-always-appear-offside-and-the-reason-is-in-the-rule-book. But yeah that is probably the exception that proves the rule. "would we honestly want to see loads of games play out like that?" - won't happen, because it is actually very easy to counter (smash it up the middle, offload before the tackle, engaging a maul rather than allowing the ball-carrier to be taken to deck), so you can't expect to get away with it every time as Italy seemed to think they would. A few of these non-competes littered over the entire course of a match, yes I very much hope to see more of them.

    Reply
  •  moo
    moo

    Cards on the table: Englishman and general supporter of EJ and what he has thus far been trying to do with this team. I have no problem with the Italian tactics. It took some serious organisation and discipline by them to ensure that the majority of tackle situations weren't contested. That must have taken the whole squad, coaching staff and support team a serious amount of work for them to go against their instincts. It is also a compliment to the current style of England's attack play that COS and BV chose to employ this against them (maybe I'm being a bit too complimentary and it just wasn't ready for the first two games!). England of old would have boshed it up the middle through the forwards and negated this tactic. Whereas in recent times, the style of play has not been so narrow. That their eagerness to play wider is as predictable as the old formula used to be is something to work on also. England displayed a lack of tactical nous and, more worryingly in my eyes, no communication between across the team (back-line must have been able to see what was going on - sometimes before the situation materialised - yet there appeared to be no comms back to the pack?). As others have said, EJ seemed to be deflecting from the players with his comments. That is not to say I support what he said. Some of his comments were off the mark. But that is what some of the media picked up on, rather than the performance, and presumably why he did it.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    I'm pretty sure this polemic is more due to the recent EJ "take them to the cleaners" comments on Italy than the fact it was, England. We can easily imagine that the english staff anticipated a 60pts trashing... In the same way, we can easily imagine how the italian staff felt when they listened about the cleaners and the relegation stuff.. In fact, for me, this tactic was used as a big middle finger to the 6N organizers: You want to put us out of the game? Well, before that, we'll do it our way. And as a french rugby fan, i tend to like this approach. It's not pretty, yes, but bloody ballzy. France is warned for the next match. As for english players being surprised... i can imagine. But Haskell, Launchbury, Daly, Hughes, Mullan, as Wasps players knew this tactic as they used it vs toulouse this winter.

    Reply
  •  hellraiser_rob
    hellraiser_rob

    The players have also got stick for asking the ref questions, one can only imagine the disdain if they had asked nothing.

    Reply
  •  2cents
    2cents

    Everyone is so overly keen to praise Italy's performance as a good performance, rather than a one dimensional and tactically non-astute performance. They had an interesting tactic, yes. They did this tactic well, yes. England took a while to work it out, but when they did what they should against it Italy looked like they weren't even on the pitch. And when England had clearly worked it out and were scoring a try every few minutes Italy were so insistent on not rucking that they just kept up the same tactic. They missed 30 tackles. Conceded 6 tries. Lost by a large margin. Let the other team that was playing like rubbish get a bonus point. To me at every ruck when England pick up and ran, Italy were too busy running backwards away from the ruck to actually think about tackling. At least 4 tries came because of this. Italy just physically completely didn't turn up, mentally were inflexible, and got hammered as a result (if i was outplayed 6 tries to 2 I would definitely consider it a hammering). The only reason that it wasn't triple figures was because of how dense England were. Additionally, what I didn't like about their tactic was that they were able to lie all over the ball and necessitate a clear out, or they would briefly compete and as soon as contact was made with an England player they would run back (contact over the ball should equal a ruck by the letter of the law) - in any other game the ref would call this a ruck, after all by lying over the ball you have slowed it down and dragged in opposition players. But because they had coached the ref on what he they were doing there was a very non-common sense application of the rules.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    Firstly, hats off to Italy. It was a strategy that for the most part worked and if they had a plan B I genuinely think they could have done it. I have to put my hand up and say that I was as confident as Eddie was prior to the game in regards to "taking them to the cleaners". There's been a lot of talk about whether they should be in the 6 Nations and if they can build on this performance, then why not? Campagnaro's try was a bloody beauty as well. Secondly, I'm going to sort of play victim here and claim that people are only so keen to attack England for the way they handled it because it's England and everyone loves to rag on them. I genuinely think ANY team would have been equally as baffled. Yes there have been examples of this strategy in the past but people seem to be citing specific games in which it was done, rather than pointing out teams that continuously do it. It's very simple but if you haven't come across it in your entire career, as many of the England players clearly hadn't, then of course it's going to throw you off. On the fence about EJ's comments. Technically, it was within the laws so it is rugby. However, would we honestly want to see loads of games play out like that? As we saw, it completely changes the composition of the game, but I'm willing to accept that my confusion about the whole thing at the time may be clouding my judgement here. EJ probably should have toned down the aggressiveness in his comments.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    of course EJ didn't actually say that - don't put it in quotation marks then!! Agree wholeheartedly with everything else.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Tim, as an England fan I completely agree with you - I love your middle paragraph - absolutely spot on. I am deeply embarrassed by some of my compatriots' reactions. In most cases you can just shrug your shoulders and say "oh well, they're just mis-informed morons", but then you have people who should know better like Matt Dawson, going on and on about it and it's just embarrassing. Thankfully the hero that is Andy Goode was on hand to put him back in his box. Whatever happened to Dawson anyway? How does someone go from world cup hero to perennial bell-end...

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Well, I must say I'm delighted that Hartley did *not* say that, or anything along those lines.

    Reply
  •  rich_w
    rich_w

    Just to add my two cents. As an English fan I found the game very frustrating to watch, mainly because we seemed unable to adapt to Italy's tactics. I'm confident had Italy pulled this against NZ they would have been obliterated. It certainly showed up some of ENglands inadequacies. My main gripe after the event is all the people banging on about how England were 'embarrassed' or Italy won a moral victory, or conor O'shea and Brendan Venter were 'geniuses'. I'm not sure how other international teams would have reacted, but England still scored 6 tries and got a bonus point. In comparison wales put 3 past Italy. A pretty shoddy outcome of a work of 'genius' if you ask me. On Eddie Jones, he is trying to deflect attention away from his players a bit maybe. But also, I think he is in a unique position to be able to criticize Italy. People seem to be forgetting that he has coached a Tier 2 team (on paper far worse than Italy) to a victory over South Africa, by playing amazing attacking rugby, quick, powerful. A joy to watch. I still have Japan v SA recorded on my TV box and I won't be deleting it any time soon as it was such a great spectacle. Will any Italians have this saved to watch back at a later date?

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnYGLoBOGnw&t=190s Eddie Jones's press conference, for anyone who may be interested and hasn't seen it. Quite entertaining if you ask me. Love the way he banters with the journalists, always with that massive grin on his face. Great bit around 3:30: - Do you think you could have prepared better? - Prepared to not play rugby? Yeah, it's my fault mate, you're 100% right. Should've just taken them ten-pin bowling or something.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    That must be one of the most farcical comment i've read on this blog... A ref is not here to be the coach of one team, he's on the pitch to apply the rule and his recommendations Polite certainly met both teams staffs, together or separately, before the game of rugby to explain and discuss his recommendations on scrum, touch, rucks, etc... So if the Italian staff asked a question about rucks and offside positions in defence, you mean Poite imagined exactly Italy future plans????? or that he should have revealed the italian plans premonition to the english staff before the game? That sounds very eccentric.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Well yes, I thought about making that point in my comment but thought it would be a bit churlish... I did think they played some nice rugby generally for the first half. Unfortunately, once Plan A regarding the rucks was found out, they didn't seem to have a Plan B, which was disappointing. So when England realised (and let's be honest, they bloody should have cottoned on a lot earlier) that they could simply execute 3-4 pick-n-drives to create space and generate quick ball, Italy then left themselves more exposed than ever to the power and speed of England's attack.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    This is where I actually find myself liking Eddie Jones a little less. He is still a very good coach for England - I haven't seen them playing so cohesively and well for a while, but as Cluainoir stated, EJ said "take them to the cleaners".... So he knew England were going to win the game, he had no respect for Italys play, it was a simple "of course we're gonna win mate, it's the Italians after all, no threat"... But also with an added sting of "they just make up the numbers so we'll add our bonus points etc onto the match and get a huge point difference"...(of course EJ didn't actually say that, but if you can read between the lines that was his intentions) and so as O'Shea stated, Italy wasn't there just to make up numbers. Lets be honest, I'm sure us as players have all found ourselves on the wrong end of a scoreline once in a while. A team I used to play with had a boxing day Derby match against the next town that was something like 2-3 leagues higher, our tactics changed for that game and they usually ended with either a draw or a narrow loss - possibly a narrow win once... You play your opposition and frankly if it is within the laws of the game then it is rugby. Can we not start saying that when the kiwis beat our team (whichever team you support) that it's not rugby, because you don't like their tactics, or the fact that they're good at playing to their strengths... Fijians don't play rugby because it's too fast and offloady for the fatties who just want to smash someone. EJ humble up my friend, you turned up to put massive points on Italy and unfortunately you didn't do it in either the volume you hoped or the way you hoped, but Italy played bloody well and rather than any pointy tooth grins, they deserve a genuine bit of respect not a "yeh well done Italy, you ruined a spectacle with interesting tactics!" - Especially as has been pointed out numerously, they are not new tactics!

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Sorry to do this Mr 1, but I have to pick up a few things here."[Jones] placed no blame on Italy for doing it". He compared it, several times, to the Trevor Chappell underarm bowling incident, described at the time by Richie Benaud as "a disgraceful performance, [which] should never be permitted to happen again" and "one of the worst things I have ever seen on a cricket field - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2hiy-hDKnA. And let's not forget Benaud said this about his own team. To cast the Italian ruck tactic in the same mould as that is pretty damning criticism."Perhaps [Poite] could have said that he will be very definitive on calling tackle, then ruck if applicable." I thought he did exactly this. I believe he got 2 or 3 of them wrong, notably where Italy had initially committed to a ruck and then pulled out, but he announced his calls very clearly. If you've played rugby for 20 years, you ought to know the laws well enough to not be caught out so spectacularly. And you ought to be able to adapt quickly, especially when the solution is as obvious as just smash it up the middle."that [clarification] is what Hartley should have asked for (nicely) - He did ask, very nicely, for clarification. Well, in fact, as captain, he accompanied Hask while he asked for clarification. It was pretty clear to me that Hartley did know the law perfectly well, in that the clarification he asked for was the distance from the tackle that is still considered "the tackle area". Here's why that is important: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYSXdoNc-Xs.

    Reply
  •  timchambers431
    timchambers431

    He explained the rule to the Hartley when he asked, there is no offside line if there is no ruck. He consistently called either 'tackle only' or 'ruck' throughout the game. What he didn't do was tell the English players how to deal with it, because that is their coach's job. The manner in which Poite referred the game did not give Italy an advantage. What gave Italy an advantage was O'Shea's gameplan. What do you expect Poite to do? Tell Italy that they can't perform a legal action because you don't want them to? I'm not sure the 'ultimate aim of rugby' is to have a referee cherry-pick certain laws to ignore to placate England fans.

    Reply
  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    So Poite should litteraly 'help' the english team because they did not prepare thouroughly and read carefully the law? How should it be 'fair'?

    Reply
  •  cluainoir
    cluainoir

    It was a response to Jone's "take them to the cleaners" statement. A total lack of respect shown to the opposition. Now that's not rugby.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Poite met with COS and the Italian team the day before and discussed this very point. All perfectly legitimate. England could have done the same. The referee's job is to apply the laws to the game, but that is ignoring the ultimate aim of rugby, certainly World Rugby and 6 Nations, which is to provide an entertaining game to watch. If the referee can do that whilst applying the laws correctly, without giving either team an advantage, then they should. Poite didn't. His reply was just being a d*ck. Yes Roman, you are a referee, you have had specific discussion with Italy on this point yesterday to discuss how you will ref it. Now we can say how this is affecting the game, can we take a short time out so that we are all on the same page, because unless you want to be a ridiculously obtuse b*llend, its a bit harsh to just tell us to ask our coach about the laws, when this is producing a rather farcical display of rugby*. * that is what Hartley should have said.

    Reply
  •  timchambers431
    timchambers431

    From what I've personally witnessed, the people complaining about this tactic are almost solely English supporters and of course I can understand this frustration. However as a neutral party - I think it was a brilliant ploy. I dislike EJ stating that it "wasn't rugby", because it absolutely was. It embodied an aspect I love about this sport. Compared to some other sports Rugby Union has a sizable and complex set of rules, and we occasionally get to see an intelligent coach exploit a nuance in the laws to their benefit. What O'Shea and Italy managed to do was stifle an opposition, completely legally, who came into that match certain of outright dominance and give themselves a fighting chance. How is that 'not rugby'? It might not have been the try-fest that English players & fans expected, but it was a bloody fascinating and compelling game of rugby to watch.

    Reply
  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    Poite did explain many times to Hartley and the english players what was happening. How could you ask for more?

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Like said Poite: "I'm very sorry, I am a referee, I'm not a coach" A ref brings world rugby law answers, not help players to find the best answer.

    Reply
  •  hellraiser_rob
    hellraiser_rob

    Let's not get too excited and tar a whole nation with the same brush here!

    Reply
  •  hellraiser_rob
    hellraiser_rob

    In the game they "delivered" they conceded 6 tries - compared with 3 against Wales...?

    Reply
  •  auldyin
    auldyin

    Perhaps I missed something but since when did England start playing Rugby?

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    You're right, but I think EJ shouldn't really be criticised. He just pointed out that it wasn't great rugby to watch, which is correct. He placed no blame on Italy for doing it. It was a shame England couldn't adapt straight away to the tactic. It must have felt a bit unnatural and I think Poite could have been a bit more helpful as it was obvious Italy were doing it at every tackle. Perhaps he could have said that he will be very definitive on calling tackle, then ruck if applicable. Then at least the England players would have known where they stood. If you spend 20 years playing rugby where 99% of the time there is a ruck formed once the tackle is made its tough to change your natural reaction to assume on offside line. They would have found it hard to not be second guessing Poite, thinking that it would be typical that the one time they assume there is no ruck, it turns out that Poite does call a ruck! Saying that, that is what Hartley should have asked for (nicely)

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    Even when Lancaster was trying to make us likeable, it didn't make a difference. Might as well embrace it :P

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Very impressed by O'Shea. OK Italy didn't really show up too well in their first two games, but they really delivered in this one. And I'm not just talking about the non-compete at the rucks, I thought they out-played in most areas during the first 20-30 minutes especially. Judging from his post-match press conference, his Italian is coming along very nicely too - almost didn't need his translator there. In that press conference, he said the non-compete thing was Brendan Venter's idea.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    I don't really understand this polemic. Italy is actually a limited and weak rugby team, so O'Shea tried to suprise England with a tricky plan allowed in world rugby laws. Why should they be blamed??? Do Wasps or Chiefs were criticized when they did the same? If a team tricks you, adapt and try something different. No rucks? Well, just pick'n go. It will force the opposition to change of strategy. The problem is England waited 70 minutes to pick'n go... to finally make the difference with their fitness. see? I'm not surprised by Eddie Jones comments, Mourinho in the text. But i guess, it fits his new willing to make England non-likable again. ;)

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    I guess it was a smart tactic but my guess is teams will learn to deal with it very quickly. Since a few of the defending team are in front of the ball, there must be more space somewhere else on the pitch. In a way I understand what Eddie Jones means. I know rugby is a game of evasion but if teams are constantly looking for tactics that avoid any kind of contact around a ruck..., well it is definitely not what we are used to.

    Reply
  •  denis
    denis

    Englands "supporters" at their boorish worst. Jeering their OWN side and then jeering the Italianms because they dared to be an opposition. Eddie's petulant outburst because the game didn't go according to the script he had clearly already written. As the ref said I am the referee, not your coach".

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    Further proof that rugby is played with the top 2 inches. Look what O'Shea did with the Quins academy, post bloodgate, injury crises, he won the premiership with a team ravaged by World Cup + 6N using 1/5th of my schools old 1st XV, not to mention a solid career as a proper solid old skool full back. We praised Australia for maintaining control when they were down to 13 players, and it all stems from the breakdown. You can't hit what isn't there. Offside only comes from a ruck. No quick ball. Other teams kicked off at Ireland for performing the choke tackle so effectively. Pure defiance. A massive F*ck You to the way the game is heading. If Farrell is the Engineer's answer to an Artistic Dilemma, Italy are Artists wielding set-squares. Quite fitting that Picasso said it. "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist". Jones' face was screwed up like a Pablo original trying to comprehend the picture unfolding in front of him

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    Catenaccio? Conor-naccio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

Great Tries

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

View All

See It To Believe It

View All

Funnies

View All

Training Videos

View All

Player Features

View All
Italy ruck tactics bemuse England and agitate coach Eddie Jones | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos