Ruck and Maul: Walsh explains advantage law in light of Anglo-Welsh furore


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The Independent Online

Steve Walsh, the referee for last weekend's England v Wales match at Twickenham, has rejected claims that he ought to have come back for a penalty – or forgot to do so – when he played advantage to England in the move that led to Dave Strettle's unsuccessful dive for a try in added time.

Walsh confirmed to Ruck and Maul that he "had decided that advantage was over", on the grounds that England had gained a "tactical" benefit in being allowed to play on rather than the game being stopped for an offence by Wales's Adam Jones.

Advantage does not exist solely to allow an offended-against team to keep playing until they score, knowing that if they don't play will come back for the original transgression. Although that may happen if the referee decides no advantage was gained.

The non-offending team may gain either tactically or territorially (making more significant ground than if the play had been stopped) – in preference to the whistle being blown without fail.

The write stuff

England's interim head coach, Stuart Lancaster, has borrowed from the British & Irish Lions among others by recruiting past internationals to present players with their jerseys before matches.

The old way was to lay the match shirts out in the changing room. Now ex-props Graham Rowntree (also the England forwards coach) and Jason Leonard have done the honours in Scotland and Italy while Lawrence Dallaglio, former captain and No 8, was on hand the night before England v Wales.

Another Lancaster innovation was to write to every player's parents, asking for testimony from relatives and acquaintances on what it means to see the player turning out for their country. The replies have been inscribed on a plaque presented to each player.

The England captain, Chris Robshaw, told Ruck and Maul: "My mum said it was a lot of work but she was in touch with my brother, two schoolteachers and Andre Vos [the South African former Harlequins back-rower] who was my first mentor at the club. The plaque is in my room, I will read it the night before I play."

Captains, his captains

Robshaw took up an offer before his first match as captain, against Scotland last month, to call his predecessor as Harlequins and England captain, Will Carling. "He told me to be your own man," said Robshaw, "and realise how much the Scots dislike you."

Sean Fitzpatrick, the ex-All Black captain who is on Quins' board, advised: "You can't be everyone's friend all the time. If there's an issue, don't put it on the back burner."

Thinking of which, this is the place to adjust our assertion that Robshaw was the 12th England captain from Harlequins. The estimable rugby historian John Griffiths puts it at 14, pointing out that Vincent Cartwright (1905-06) and JE "Jenny" Greenwood (1920) were appearing for Quins around the time they led their country; though it is true that programmes and newspaper reports noted their club as Nottingham and Cambridge University respectively.

Sarries in a spin

Ruck and Maul's inbox was clogged last week by Saracens announcing 18 contract extensions, one by one over three days. None of them did the public the courtesy of revealing how long the extensions were for – so Owen Farrell could be leaving next month, for all we know. But that, of course, is not the point.

The club's publicity is cute, considered and relentless and the motto "there's something special happening at Saracens" somehow finds its way into the mouth of every player or coach. The spin reached Shane Warne standard in the quotes attributed to the little-known second row Eoin Sheriff: "When I arrived from Ireland... I had heard people say there is something special happening at Saracens, but I thought that was just PR speak by some guy in an office. Now I know it's the truth, and I am delighted to sign again."