Here are your rugby morning headlines for Monday February 28.
Nige baffled by England try
Nigel Owens has waded into the big England versus Wales try furore and insisted it should have been ruled out by referee Mike Adamson.
Alex Dombrandt’s decisive score became the main talking point after the game with Wales claiming Adam Beard had been pushed out of the lineout, the England No.8 latching onto Ryan Elias’ wayward throw and scoring.
Wales boss Wayne Pivac was unhappy the matter wasn’t referred to the TMO, arguing it would have been overturned upon review because of Maro Itoje’s push.
Top referee Owens, world rugby’s leading official of the past decade, appeared to concur with Pivac when giving his own expert views on the controversy in the Telegraph.
Nige started: “You cannot obstruct an opponent from jumping at the lineout, and when you watch the footage back it looks like Itoje did that, before Dombrandt subsequently scored.
“Normally, if there was any doubt then the referee would refer to the television match official, and because that incident was a moment of foul play it is covered under the protocol of using the TMO.
“Even if the officials were not aware of the incident, the TMO would be watching everything in the truck and could intervene. I was surprised that didn’t happen, particularly when the Wales players were asking the referee to check for foul play. That would normally trigger a review.”
READ MORE: Maro Itoje’s smirk as England score
He continued: “I was never one for wanting players to tell me to check something, and would tell them to not come chasing me for potential incidents to be reviewed.
“But if the captain or the player concerned did so in the correct manner regarding a particular moment, that would make me question whether they have a point and I would ask the TMO to have a look.
“If it had been checked, then the decision centers on whether Itoje obstructed Beard from jumping at the lineout. I would say Itoje probably did obstructed Beard, which means if it had been checked, I would have been pretty surprised if the try had stood .
“If you did not see the incident yourself as the referee, you would be hoping that your assistants and the TMO would intervene. The smile on Itoje’s face said everything, really!
“The reason people will be disappointed is because moments like that are why we have the technology in the game.
“I have seen the comments made by Pivac and he is right to be disappointed and to ask the question why it wasn’t checked.”
Jones denies trying to stop stars playing for Wales
Eddie Jones says he has never encouraged a player to choose England honors over Wales.
English no. 8 Alex Dombrandt and scrum-half Harry Randall started for Jones at Twickenham in the win over Wales, having previously represented Wales U20s.
Dombrandt attended Cardiff Metropolitan University and featured for the Wales age-grade side during that time, while Randall – who was born in Slough to English parents – was raised in the Amman Valley from the age of four, schooled in Llandovery and captained Wales as a teenager.
He was given the no. 9 starting jersey ahead of England’s new most-capped player Ben Youngs and has been touted as a key man under Jones.
Asked for his verdict on Randall’s potential and how happy he is that the youngster is representing England and not Wales, Jones laughed: “Why do I get all these questions about Harry from the Wales journalists? He’s 100% English, he wants to play for England.
“He’s a good little player. For a little guy, he’s got great speed. Every game, he’s developing his game a little bit more.”
Jones insisted he has never stepped in to persuade anyone to play for England.
“We never had to encourage him to play for England and we don’t, and I can be quite honest, in the time I’ve been here, I’ve never encouraged a player to play for England.
“They have to make the choice. If they want to play for Wales or they want to play for England.”
Jones pointed to Wales lock Will Rowlands, the England-born and raised Dragons second-row who earlier this week stressed he never had an identity crisis when it came to which country he wanted to play for, thanks to his dad Jeremy who comes from Pontllanfraith .
Jones added: “I remember Rowlands was the same. We had a chat to him, and he said ‘no I want to play for Wales’ and I said ‘well, good luck to you. Get on with your career and play well for them’. We’re happy for the guys to make that decision.
“We’re pleased Harry chose England and he’s going to be a very good player.”
Dombrandt messages of Welsh support
England try scorer Alex Dombrandt revealed he had received lots of messages of support from his old Welsh university ahead of the big clash with Wales.
The powerful No.8 played for Wales under-20s whilst studying at Cardiff Met, but this time was starring against the men in red.
He said: “It meant a lot to be able to represent England, especially against Wales. I had quite a few messages in the week from people from the university and Wales. To get the win was pretty sweet, for sure.”
Dombrandt said he knew nothing about Wales’ claims of Adam Beard being blocked from jumping in the lineout as he latched onto Ryan Elias’ throw to score.
Asked if the matter had been spoken about he replied: “No, it hasn’t. Not going to lie, I didn’t really see the lineout, I just saw the ball come over and I thought I was quite lucky to get it and then score the try.”
Farrell expects World Rugby to act over Italy farce
Andy Farrell expects World Rugby to review its rules after Ireland benefited from a “weird” law en route to blitzing depleted Italy 57-6.
The unfortunate Azzurri battled on two men down for three quarters of Sunday’s match in Dublin after substitute Hame Faiva was dismissed having just replaced fellow hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi due to injury.
Those premature departures led to uncontested scrums and, under governing body guidelines, necessitated the removal of a second Italian player, with number eight Toa Halafihi the man to go off.
Ireland took advantage by running in nine tries, including two apiece for outstanding debutant Michael Lowry and the returning James Lowe, to bounce back from defeat to France a fortnight ago.
Italy left the Aviva Stadium field with just 12 men due to Braam Steyn being sin-binned for the final five minutes, leaving Ireland head coach Farrell to reflect on a strange afternoon.
“There’s not many times we’ve played a test match against 12 players, so there’s plenty we can take away from it,” he said.
“It’s just weird (the law). We understand why the rule was brought in but at the same time I suppose, in situations like that, occasions like that, it’ll bring the rule back to everyone’s attention and they’ll look at it.
“Rightly, Italy were trying to slow the game down, it’s what everyone would have done.
“When you’ve got uncontested scrums for so long in the game, everyone’s legs are nice and fresh and it’s the reason Italy were tenacious in defence, even when they went to 12 men.”
Faiva was dismissed for making contact with the head of Dan Sheehan only 10 minutes after coming on for the knitting Lucchesi.
Azzurri head coach Kieran Crowley said: “On the team sheet, you must name two hookers, two loosehead props and two tighthead props.
“When you then lose two hookers, I was not prepared to go with props that have never hooked before into that position.
“There were two identified on the team sheet and, unfortunately, Lucchesi dislocated his elbow and then the red card occurs.
“We had to go to 13; it’s something that we have no control over on the rules – they (World Rugby) have to look at that.”
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