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Now For Ireland!

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Now For Ireland!

Now For Ireland!

EngvAllBlacks_Nov18_primary

THE All Blacks again demonstrated their peerless ability to get out of a jam, but needed a bit of luck.

Luck, because some referees would not have asked for a review of the potential winning England try. That’s where the luck stops.
So what to make of it all.

The Law(es)

Technically it wasn’t a ruck.

Because there was not an England player on his feet, only the tackler on the ground, it was actually a tackle.

But there are still offside lines, those being the furthermost points of players involved, so the presence of Ofa Tu’ungafasi was crucial as his forward momentum over the tackled player, while bound to a team-mate, was what put Courtney Lawes offside beyond any existing doubt.  

In order to legally charge down TJ Perenara’s kick, Lawes needed to come from behind the hindmost point of the mass, and not before the ball had emerged.

It used to be when the halfback’s hands were on the ball, but that was changed a year ago and now the ball has to be out before the opposition can advance. 

So at the point when Perenara cleared the ball from the tackle, Lawes was offside. No doubt.

That half metre he had cribbed was crucial in allowing him to charge down the kick.

The Process:

Not for the first time in living memory, a French referee went outside protocol to reach his decision. 

Under recent changes, it’s a decision Jerome Garces was supposed to make for himself with help from the big screen but he opted instead to lob a live hand grenade at South African Marius Jonker.

World Rugby have accepted Garces contention that in the poor weather, he could not clearly see the detail of the incident on the big screen. 

As they say in the French Tui ads - Oui Vrai!

The Reaction, Part One, British Media:

Some howls of outrage, of course, one in particular that appears to have been made in a state of rage, without knowledge of the laws, and with complete distortion of the facts.

If such people had been prepared to accept that the same Frenchman acted outside to protocols and prompted an incorrect decision to save the Lions from defeat at Eden Park last year, then it would be easier to be sympathetic.  

To be fair most of the reputable rugby writers acknowledged last week that Owen Farrell had gotten away with an illegal tackle, and have accepted that this might have been swings and roundabouts.

The Reaction, Part Two, World Rugby:

For once, World Rugby were prepared to enter the argument, defending the use of the TMO in the murky conditions, despite the breach of process.

However is all a bit mealy mouthed, summed up with the use of the expression “marginally offside”.

Whether it was “marginal” is irrelevant. It’s either offside or it’s not. To say it was marginal is a sop to England.

The Reaction, Part Three, The England Coach:

Eddie showed show real class. He might not have studied Shakespeare, but he knows all about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and took his lumps, glowing in the positives of an inspired England performance.

The Reaction Part Four, Kiwis:

Karma, baby, Karma.

And it wasn’t just about the big call at the end. Here are a couple of other reasons why it went New Zealand’s way.

Decision making: 

This might have been Kieran Read’s best display of captaincy. He sensed England might be vulnerable just before halftime and rather than just get something on the board by way of a penalty, went for the seven pointer, and changed the course of the game. From there on he was happy to collect in threes.

In contrast England went for the jugular but dropped the knife, twice blowing a crucial three for a hopeful seven.

Retallick v Itoje:

Yes, Jamie George got the yips, but the real reason England’s lineout went into meltdown was that Brodie Retallick owned Maro Itoje in the second half.

He found space in front of England’s poster boy and made a succession of crucial steals.

It owed much to Itoje’s regard for his own ability that he continued to call the ball to himself when he was getting done like the proverbial meat and three veg.   

Stephen Jones is one of sports most compelling writers, not to mention a dab hand at winding Kiwis up, but his claim that Itoje “ate the All Black locks alive” suggested a momentary loosening of his grip on reality.

Barrett v Farrell:

Contrasting styles, but fantastic competitors both. Farrell was brave and bold, Barrett was brilliant when he could be, and solid when he needed to be. And kicked a field-goal.

So now it’s onto Dublin and another potential classic.

The All Blacks will need a much, much better kicking game, and will need all round improvement ….so will Ireland, who have lost a couple of key players and looked a bit sluggish against the Pumas.

But this should be the game of the year.