Saturday 19 August 2017

‘He should have some respect' - Conor O'Shea responds to Matt Dawson's Twitter rant

Conor O'Shea has hit back at Matt Dawson
Conor O'Shea has hit back at Matt Dawson

Jack O'Toole

Italy coach Conor O'Shea has responded to criticism from England Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson after the former scrum-half criticised his side for their ruck-less tactics against England.

At several points during yesterday's game at Twickenham, the Italian defence would commit zero players to the ruck creating a situation where theoretically there was no offside line.

Dawson took great exception to Italy's tactics blasting O'Shea's side for their style of defence and calling on World Rugby to consider changing the laws regarding the ruck.

O'Shea responded to Dawson's rant by highlighting the effective use of the tactic by both Wasps and Australia's David Pocock over the last few months and called on Dawson to have more respect for the players in his side.

"I'd like him to sit down with World Rugby and have a look at some of the other games we have played this year, and if he is that good on the rules, actually make a comment after we were impacted, as we were, in the first game of this Championship," O'Shea told BBC 5 Live Sport.

“But that's not for me to get into now. We came here to have a go. If anyone thought that the team that came here and kicked into the corners when they could have kicked goals, missed a couple of penalties, had a crack from deep off scrums, was here not to play, if they want us to lose by 100 points...well, why should we? Why should we be normal? We should be ourselves.

“I think rather than having a go, have a bit of humility and respect for guys who have very little in comparison to their counterparts on the other side of the pitch.

“I was expecting this if I’m being honest. I thought it was a great game, it was compelling. People came here expecting 60, 70 points, I’d like to look back on the game but you had players having to make decisions on the pitch and how to deal with it, that’s what rugby’s about. Rugby is a game of chaos and if you want us just to roll over and do nothing we’ll do that.

“We talked to the referee yesterday, we went to him, we told him what we were doing because we wanted to sure. I think when Wasps scored a try against Toulouse it's probably brilliant play, when David Pocock did it against Ireland in the November internationals it's brilliant play. Italy do it and ... 'uh.. shouldn't do it.'"

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith defended Italy's tactics and applauded O'Shea for his bravery in employing the strategy, yet stressed the point that a team could easily be opened up if they were found guilty of over-applying the no-ruck tactic.

"It's a roll of the dice in many ways," Smith told Stuff.co.nz..

"There's an obvious weakness in that you can pull out of the tackle and put no one else in, but it's hard to avoid them pulling you in. So if someone over the ball grabs hold of you, all of a sudden the ruck has been formed and the defensive line has to go back.

"I don't think it requires a law change. The law says you require one from each team over the ball bound together to create a ruck. I can't see them changing that.

"It's not an anomaly in the law, it's just a part of the game, a shock tactic that a team might use now and again but certainly if you became predictable by doing it you'd be cut to bits."

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