Saturday 29 April 2017

Erasmus: Coaches won't cynically milk controversial new laws

Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Sportsfile
Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Rassie Erasmus has backed the World Rugby directives around high tackles to succeed despite growing fears that they will lead to an increase in cynical play.

The Munster director of rugby does not believe that coaches will encourage their players to dip into contact more frequently to try to earn penalties as referees are instructed to issue strict punishments for any contact, accidental or otherwise, with the head in a bid to reduce the number of concussive injuries.

Last weekend's round of fixtures were the first to be played since the increased sanctions were introduced and they have provoked considerable debate on their implementation.

The yellow cards given by Marius Mitrea in Ulster's defeat to Scarlets were perhaps the most controversial, but every game over the course of the weekend led to discussion over the implementation of the laws.

And there are fears that the increased attention to any sort of high tackle could lead to coaches encouraging players to bring on contact by carrying low into contact to make life even more difficult for defenders.

However, Erasmus disputes that notion.

"I don't think there's many coaches who will coach to get penalties. I don't think that will change. The reason behind it is the right reason," he said.

"If the coaches and players stay honest about it and the referees understand what they're trying to do, I think it will work."

Erasmus is likely to be without Tommy O'Donnell for Saturday's clash with Glasgow after he damaged his ankle against Racing 92 last weekend. Jean Kleyn and Thomas du Toit return after illness.

Meanwhile, Leinster hooker Sean Cronin has emerged as a major Six Nations doubt due to the hamstring injury he suffered against Zebre.

The hooker will definitely miss Friday's Champions Cup meeting with Montpellier and is anxiously awaiting results of a second scan to determine the true extent of the injury but the early signs are not good.

Irish Independent

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