Kaplan to crack down on breakdown offenders
BE positive. That was the message from South African referee Jonathan Kaplan to Ireland and Wales ahead of this evening's Six Nations encounter at the Millennium Stadium (5.0).
Both sides have had major problems with their discipline during the championship with Wales notching up 39 penalties to Ireland's 37 and sources close to Kaplan in South Africa say the referee will use yellow cards to impose his will, especially at scrum time.
Scotland had prop Allan Jacobsen sent to the bin for illegal scrummaging in Ireland's last outing and their coach Andy Robinson was fuming at the post-match press conference that no Irish player had received a similar sanction.
Sources say Kaplan is deter-mined that the scrum will not slow down proceedings and will show yellow sooner rather than later if the set-piece begins to fracture. Furthermore, he intends to be extra vigilant regarding players staying on their feet at the breakdown or sealing off and is setting out to ensure the attacking team is not prevented from getting quick possession.
"I think he rewards positivity," said Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde yesterday. "He's the type of referee who likes to see an open and expansive game and I think it will be a good match because of it."
Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday that the roof of the Millennium Stadium will be open for today's match. McBryde expressed Wales's preference to have it closed on the basis of creating a better atmosphere, but when Ireland were officially approached on the issue they opted to keep the roof open.