Italy tactics will 'kill the game' warns Ford

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:25

REACTION: England flyhalf George Ford urged rugby chiefs to outlaw the spoiling tactics employed by Italy at Twickenham on Sunday, saying they had the potential to "kill the game".

Six Nations champions England eventually won 36-15 to remain on course for back-to-back Grand Slams and extend their winning run to 17 successive victories.

But the final score did not tell the story of an extraordinary match where perennial whipping boys Italy, against all predictions, led 10-5 at half-time.

England were repeatedly frustrated during the first half by Italy's novel tactic of 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 scrumhalf Danny Care and flyhalf Ford.

French referee Romain Poite, who had been warned about Italy's approach at the traditional pre-match meeting officials have with both teams, saw nothing wrong in what the visitors were doing, with England eventually playing in similar fashion.

England, deploying aggressive runners down the middle, finally got their act together by scoring five second-half tries through Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell (two) and Ben Te'o.

But having seen the tactic in action once, Ford urged officials to prevent a repeat before England face old rivals Scotland in a match for the Triple Crown at Twickenham on March 11. 

"Italy came with a tactic of doing what they did around the breakdown which basically meant there was no rugby being played," he said.

"We sussed out what they were doing pretty quickly but we didn't act on it quick enough...It was frustrating to say the least.

"We had spoken about it because Fiji in the autumn [November] wouldn't have a ruck and their nine (scrumhalf) would come between our nine and 10 (flyhalf)," explained Ford after Italy scrumhalf Edoardo Gori had done exactly that early on at Twickenham. 

"But it's a different matter if a side is doing it every ruck.

"I hope it will get addressed before the Scotland game because if teams do that it is going to kill the game quickly. There's no rugby going to be played."

England coach Eddie Jones said Italy, thrashed 63-10 by Ireland last time out, were merely intent on damage limitation on Sunday as he called for World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, himself a former England captain, to take action.

"They [Italy] brilliantly executed that game and that got them what they wanted which was a close loss," said Jones.

"In football they say park the bus. I don't know what they had, but it was bigger than a bus...If that's rugby, I'm going to retire. That's not rugby.

He added: "I'm sure Bill Beaumont watched that game today and will take some action."

But unrepentant Italy coach Conor O'Shea, who insisted his side had "played to the law", said: "We are not going to roll over and we are going to fight. 

"Just because we took people by surprise, what do they want us to do?"

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
Lions v Bulls 51 | 14
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 18 | 16
Sunwolves v Sharks 17 | 38
Force v Highlanders 6 | 55
Hurricanes v Cheetahs 61 | 7
Fri, 19 May 2017
Leinster v Scarlets 15 | 27
Stormers v Blues 30 | 22
Chiefs v Crusaders 24 | 31
Sat, 13 May 2017
Jaguares v Force 6 | 16
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 4 0 1 19
Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
France 5 3 0 2 14
Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0