IRB chief O'Brien steps in to defend derided tackle law
IRB referees' supremo Paddy O'Brien has defended the controversial tackle law which was a major factor in Ireland conceding 16 penalties during the win over Wales last weekend.
The interpretation decrees that the tackler must disengage from the attacking player before he can attempt to claim the ball and the Irish players struggled to adapt to the ruling last weekend, frequently approaching referee Craig Joubert for clarification.
O'Brien acknowledged that Ireland's management were unhappy with the "timing" of the new interpretation of law 15.6(c) but said the law had been in place since last year.
"That is apparently the big contention for Irish eyes," he agreed. "That law came into place in May 2009. In November 2009, all the referees met and we addressed areas of the game that hadn't been refereed very well.
"We discussed the tackle holistically and in the minutes disseminated to all referee/managers throughout the world, in bold was all the tackle/ruck law.
"The referees were told as per November 2009 they were to apply the law. Each referee for the matches in round one were rung and coaches were rung before round three and the areas we had concerns about.
"The drama began when southern hemisphere referees were involved in the Six Nations and there was a belief that the games would be refereed differently. My reply was that all referees would apply the law.
"Several meetings took place, clarity was sought and given and basically that's where we are now."