Sport Rugby

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Elwood demands 'tip' clarity

Connacht coach Eric Elwood feels it is becoming increasingly difficult for players to deal with the interpretation of tip-tackling, WRITES JOHN FALLON.

Elwood said that it has become an area of increased concern for players and coaches, especially given the implications for both the victim and the perpetrator.

Connacht are continuing to deal with the issue, according to Elwood, but two high-profile incidents in Sunday's game between Ireland and Wales highlighted how thin the line is.

"I didn't think it was a (yellow) card -- I didn't even think it was a penalty," said Elwood in relation to Stephen Ferris' sin-binning.

"It was a tough call on Stephen and it cost Ireland a Test match. You win and lose matches on those decisions. It is a thin line for sure. Whatever about being a penalty, it wasn't a yellow-card offence.

"In Stephen's incident I think the referee got it completely wrong, in the sense that he let him go, the man lay on his side and it ultimately cost Ireland a Test match -- it cost us dearly.

"I think the referees are very conscious of it themselves and it may come down from the governing board. It is a scary one at the moment that you need to get 100pc right."

The Ireland Wolfhounds coach felt that the Bradley Davies incident with Donnacha Ryan was much more clear-cut.

"I think it was more than a yellow. There was absolutely no need for it. He pretty much dumped him, and the ball was well and truly gone as well," added Elwood.

The former Ireland out-half said that squads were working with referees to get it right, but the margin was so thin between what was legitimate and what wasn't.

"It is very important when you are making those type of tackles that you have to understand there are consequences for your actions," he said.

"When you do dump a guy, it is serious for his sake injury-wise. It is important not to go there, it is too damaging on yourself, on the team and on the individual who is getting tackled.

"It is difficult -- it is not that you don't train for something like that. But on the spur of the moment you might catch a guy wrong, but it is important you drop him safely.

"You go through the gate and made good solid contact with your shoulder and you either push him back or put him on the deck.

"Sometimes on the spur of the moment you might catch a guy wrong or drop him wrongly, but it is a physical confrontational game and it is important to get the balance. The referees understand that there is not intent there to hurt anybody."

Irish Independent

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