Tuesday 12 November 2019

Ned’s dead! – Brian O’Driscoll reveals trick Leinster players used to con referees

Referee Wayne Barnes signals a try scored by Scott Williams, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Referee Wayne Barnes signals a try scored by Scott Williams, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

An old Leinster and Munster trick could have halted Wales’ storming start and subsequent win against Ireland in last Saturday’s Six Nations clash.

After just 12 minutes, Wales led 12-0 thanks to four Leigh Halfpenny penalties and in the end it proved too much for Joe Schmidt’s men to claw back as they went down 23-16 to end their Grand Slam dreams.

There have been numerous post mortems since as we reflect on what could have been.

But maybe one of the simplest tricks in the playbook could have halted the Welsh juggernaut in those early stages in the Millennium Stadium.

When asked if Ireland should have faked an injury to break the Welsh momentum on tonight’s Off The Ball show on Newstalk, Brian O’Driscoll recalled how Leinster and Munster often used to con the ref to break up the play.

“At Leinster there used to be a call. Victor Costello was known as Ned so he was a good person to go down, it was called Ned’s dead,” said O’Driscoll.

“And Munster, Frankie Sheahan I saw on many occasions going down and having the magic sponge brought on. Sometimes you do need to just calm things down and try and break the sequence of how the game is going and try and slow that momentum down a little bit.

“I think we were all a little bit shocked when we looked at the scoreboard and saw we were 12-0 down and thinking ‘how did that happen’. But you still always thought Ireland had all the capabilities (to bounce back).”

O’Driscoll also says that Ireland players were guilty of too much talking and complaining to referee Wayne Barnes.

“I think our frustrations got the better of us at times and in fairness to Paulie (O’Connell) he had the scope to talk to him (Wayne Barnes) and you could tell he didn’t agree with some of Wayne’s decisions.

“We didn’t play him brilliantly. The lads would have done analysis on Barnes going into the game and they would have known that one of the really hot things is that he is going to ping somebody early on, probably in the first minute or two for not rolling away at the tackles.

“So if you are defending at the time, make sure you are not the first one to give it away and we did and then we gave two other similar penalties away and before you know it we were 12 points down.

“I also think that there were too many voices talking to him and some referees don’t like that. They don’t like guys constantly chirping.

“Silence is the best thing. You couldn’t really hear too many of the Welsh talking whereas you could hear one or two from (Ireland).

“I know Sean O’Brien has quite a high-pitched voice so you will hear him a bit more and he is a great talker for Ireland and it is a really important part of his game but I could hear him chatting to Wayne and giving out about a few things and when they are not going your way and you keep going at them it tends to bed down a bad formation.”

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