No Rucking Way

Italy displays some interesting tactics over England in last week’s Six Nations. They did not engage in the rucks which led to there being no offside line. Due to this, the Italians were able to go on the England side and block a pass from the 9 to the 10. They were not able to affect the ball directly as it was still in the tackle zone and this has a 1 metre protected zone around it.

Many, such as Eddie Jones himself and ex-England international Matt Dawson have slated the tactic. Eddie stated that it was “not Rugby”. There was also much controversy between pundits and fans on social media. Ben Kay, Andy Goode, and Greenwood attacked Dawson on Twitter, stating that it was a clever tactic and that it is a testament to the rugby brains that are in charge at Italy. 

I am of the view that the tactic itself is against the spirit of the game. It slowed the game down and quite frankly made the first half boring to watch. What I will say though it was clever for Italy to use this and baffle England. However, it should be removed from the game, even Connor O’Shea himself said this. Rucks are a vital area of competition in rugby and not having them lessens the game.

Furthermore, the reffing of the rule by Romain Poite was very inconsistent. He stated often that it was a tackle only, even when Italy had engaged and then pulled out. Although he had a funny quip towards Haskell stating “I’m the referee, not a coach”, he should’ve probably given more clarification as it’s the same as asking the ref when the ball is out as a 9. 

England reacted very sluggishly to Italy’s tactic. It took almost 30 minutes to work out what was going on. Against other teams, England are going to have to think a lot faster than they did against Italy. Scotland have already shown their capacity for quick tricks and England need to be able to quickly adapt to this if they want to win this Six Nations. 

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