IRB to look into Gatland talk of faking injury
Wednesday 19 October 2011
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 re-assess 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, and given Alain Rolland's experience, a yellow card would have been right. I've spoken to Paddy O'Brien [the International Rugby Board's referee manager] about this and he supports Alain 100 per cent, as I would expect him to do. But I'm disappointed. The top referees are appointed to their positions because they're meant to make the right calls."
Gatland said he was still feeling "hollow and empty" following the events of the weekend and it was understandable that he should try to make his point anew. And while he was not comparing like with like – however unsympathetic Rolland's decision may have been, the referee was hardly guilty of the kind of sharp practice involved in faking a front-row injury – he made it powerfully. Rugby is not a game that lends itself to hard and fast applications of the letter of the law. The best officials understand that and make allowances accordingly.
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 – James because of the injury to Adam Jones, Davies in place of Alun Wyn Jones, who must be satisfied with a seat on the bench. 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.
Gatland was refreshingly honest about the problems at outside-half – missed kicks at goal, flawed game management – that cost Wales so dearly at the weekend. "I think both James Hook and Stephen Jones were disappointed with the way they played against France: in fact, it's testament to how well Rhys Priestland has played in that position during this tournament," he said, referring to the injured Scarlets stand-off who made such an impression over the opening games. "We're giving James the chance on Friday night to show everyone that he's better than he looked in the semi-final."
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Eden Hazard exclusive interview - All is rosy in the garden of Eden
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos; Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer; Dmitry Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr - boxing on TV this weekend
Robbie Savage avoids driving ban - because he would get 'accosted' too much if he had to use public transport
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts