The controversial tactics employed by Italy in the game against their England Rugby counterpart over the weekend has been making lots of waves.
However, this was first employed by Ireland the day before against France. During the 50th minute of the game, a drop goal had been landed by Johnny Sexton and Seán O’Brien had fielded Camille Lopez’s restart. O’Brien was soon tackled by Baptiste Serin over the 10-metre line.
Louis Picamoles had gone in to contest the ruck but soon backed off thereby leaving four Irish players over O’Brien. As such, there was no ruck and no offside line as well. In an attempt to block Conor Murray’s path, Rabah Slimani came around the Irish side of the ball. Nigel Owens shouted back to the French tighthead asking him to get back. Thus, Murray was able to box kick into French territory.
In the ensuing kick-tennis, Ireland was able to gain a lineout inside the French half with Murray box kicking into French territory. Another penalty from Sexton pushed the score up to 16-6. At the next break for the game, Slimani was substituted.
This tactical ploy which is hardly ever used went undetected, thus going on to show that some referees, even the best can be caught unawares by such controversial tactics.
However, in the Italy vs. England game, the Italians persistently employed this tactic and the referee presiding over the match seemed to have been notified beforehand by one of the management personnel of the Italian team that they were going to make use of the tactic.
The French referee was quoted as having said to Dylan Hartley: “I understand your frustration, but this is the law. I’ll tell you when there’s a ruck, but if there’s no ruck, there’s no offside line.”