The World Cup has waited the best part of seven weeks for the delivery of a "Gatland Grenade" and yesterday it finally arrived. The Wales coach, Warren Gatland, is still hurting over the dismissal of his captain, Sam Warburton, in the early stages of last weekend's semi-final with France, as he made abundantly clear while confirming his side for Friday night's bronze-medal contest with the Wallabies. He repeated his view that Alain Rolland, the Irish referee, could and should have made a different call in respect of Warburton's tip-tackle on the wing Vincent Clerc and underlined the point in unexpected fashion.
"When we lost Adam Jones [probably the world's best tight-head prop] to injury in the opening minutes and then lost Sam, we had a discussion in the coach's box about faking an injury to another prop and going to uncontested scrums, which would have helped us," he revealed. "We didn't do it because we felt it wasn't the correct thing to do: in terms of morality and the spirit of a World Cup semi-final, it wouldn't have been fair or right. That was our decision."
The International Rugby Board, which is said to be "privately stunned" by Gatland's comments, said yesterday that it is to review the coach's claim that he considered cheating. The board attempts to guard against players faking injuries by having doctors at pitch-side to assess them.
Gatland went on to reassess Rolland's red-card call: "I honestly think he made the wrong decision. Under the rules and regulations, he was perfectly entitled to show Sam a red card, but every game is different and you have to take into account the circumstances, the situation, whether or not there was intent. All of those things considered, a yellow card would have been right. I'm disappointed. The top referees are appointed to their positions because they're meant to make the right calls."
Happily, the Welsh are preparing themselves for a proper tilt at a podium finish on Friday. The back division will be the same that started against France, while the Ospreys prop Paul James and the Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies will feature in the tight-forward department. In the back row, Toby Faletau, outstanding at No 8 against the French, moves to the open-side berth in place of the suspended Warburton, with Ryan Jones filling the gap.Reuse content