Thursday 22 March 2018

Foley: Be clear on rules

Ireland's forwards coach urges officials to apply laws consistently as camp left frustrated by poor calls ahead of finale

FORWARDS coach Anthony Foley has admitted there is "frustration" within the Irish camp at the refusal of referees to apply the laws of the game in the Six Nations.

"I would just like if we got the clear and obvious penalties that we want. I am not even looking for the 50-50 calls. Just give us the clear and obvious ones and we will be happy with that," he said.

"We don't want to go around with victim written on our foreheads. But, it does get frustrating. At what stage do you stop taking one?

"At the moment, it is very frustrating for the team, for the management at some of the decisions."

This was not a case of 'shooting from the lip' as Foley was armed with two particular examples of decisions that went against Ireland against Scotland on Saturday.

"You go to the lineout we lost. You look at that. That is a clear penalty to us for pushing Jamie (Heaslip) in the back. Everybody can see it apart from the man who is standing with the whistle in hand. That cost us three points."

There was confusion at The Aviva over the cancellation of Tommy Bowe's double-movement try. Even seasoned veterans were not quite sure how the call should have gone. It was a grey area.

Foley was clear in his interpretation: "Then, you go to the Tommy Bowe incident. If it is ruled he is in the dead ball area -- he is off the field of play -- it is a scrum to us because he doesn't have to release the ball.

"If it is deemed he is in the field of play, then it should be a penalty to us because he has been tackled and the tackler hasn't released him so that he can place the ball. Instead, we get penalised."

The breakdown is another area of concern for Foley. He is not looking for complexity. He is looking for simplicity, clarity of the rules.

"There are issues. When has a ruck formed? When is a tackle over? Just getting a good determination on that would be nice. That comes from a referee's own perception on the pitch.

"Once that is clear and concise, there is no issue. It is when there is the little bit of ambiguity in and around it that we get frustrated.

"If you don't support your ball carrier and have the right structures around him, you will be turned over in international rugby within the first two seconds of hitting the ground. That is the way it is."

Foley was not slow to let everyone know his current lineout leader and lock Donnacha Ryan is not a cheap impersonation of anyone, not even Paul O'Connell.

"He didn't really fill Paul's boots, he filled his own boots. He made his own calls. He backed himself to the highest degree. People can start looking at Donnacha Ryan and say that is what we expect out of him. He is not a shadow of somebody else.

"He is a Tipperary hurler who goes around with ankle socks at times. He is a bit different, you know, and he carries himself very well.

"It has always been a bit hard for him with what's in front of him. When Paulie and Donncha O'Callaghan broke through in the Munster set-up, they took over from (John) Langford and Mick Galwey.

"They had a frustrating time behind them. When you get in there, you make sure you stay in there. That is what Donnacha is trying to do. He is trying to make it hard for someone else to get picked ahead of him.

"If you have that mentality and you have earned the right through persistence and performance, you do everything in your power to stay in there."


As for England, Ireland have to make sure they have a solid set-piece, they look after the ball and that the discipline is right at Twickenham next Saturday.

"(Owen) Farrell will kick it from anywhere. You see their scrum and lineout. If we back away from that we will be in trouble. We just need to be Irish forwards. We need to go there and be ourselves and function as a unit.

"They've beaten France in Paris, which is a massive achievement. They are a young side. They are coming to grips with international rugby. They'll have a good buzz this week.

"They'll be favourites going into the game. We'll be respectful of the fact that we're going into their back garden. Within that, part of that is making sure we are right to play and we give 100pc."

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