Rugby: World Rugby Defends Referee in England vs Italy’s Ruck Controversy

Source: Henry Browne / Reuters

World Rugby has defended referee Romain Poite after England’s coach Eddie Jones criticised his performance in the Six Nations game against Italy.

Despite his team’s 36-15 win, Jones believed Italy’s tactic of not putting any players in a ruck was “not rugby”. The head coach also condemned Poite who, after repeatedly asked for clarification by the English players said, “I’m the referee, not the coach, you have to find a solution.”

Source: Henry Browne / Reuters

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

The Australian went on to advise fans to get their money back, as the game “ceases to become a rugby” once the ruck is non-existent. “That wasn’t rugby today, if that’s rugby I’m going to retire, I don’t want to be involved in that. If your half-back can’t pass the ball, there’s something wrong with the game. If the [number] 10 can’t see the ball, how do you play rugby?

“I can’t answer questions on rugby because there wasn’t any today.”

However, World Rugby confirmed that Poite followed the laws correctly. A spokesman for the governing body told BBC that the law might be “clarified” in response to this incident.

Italy’s coach Conor O’Shea defended his team’s tactic, but also expected that the law is likely to change.

“We’re not inventing anything – it’s a tackle so there’s no offside. We never played the nine, we just occupied the space,” said O’Shea. “It’s nothing new but when Australia or Toulouse did it, it was fantastic but when Italy do it, it’s wrong. We did not come here to roll over.

“Will the law change? Of course it will. But we were legal and we played to the law.”