Were Lions undone by spies?

Were Lions undone by spies?

Eddie Jones' confession about spying on opponents during his time in charge of Australia will strengthen the theory that the Lions lost the momentous 2001 series in Sydney because of a covert operation.

The fall-out from Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa’s policy of snooping on opponents prompted England’s head coach to reminisce about "sending a coach who is now in a very senior position dressed like a swagman to watch them (the opposition) train and he got chased out there.’’

Alex Evans, the Aussie who coached Wales before returning home, was asked to leave them when the Lions spotted him at a private training session during the first week of the 2001 tour.

With a series in the balance, the Wallabies stole the decider but not before they had cracked the Lions’ line-out code by filming them in training.

Later, South Africa and New Zealand made public complaints about the peeping Wallabies. Jones’ admission that such practice has ‘always been going on’ contradicts official party line during that Lions tour.

"We have never authorised or approved this sort of covert activity," a spokesman said.

“We just don’t do that.”

Of course not…

Long list of the walking wounded

At the last count, the list of casualties for the Six Nations starting next week extended to the equivalent of three complete XVs.

The majority are non-starters if not for the whole tournament then certainly for the start, with those who are doubtful identified by asterisk.

Fullbacks: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Matteo Minozzi (Italy).

Wings: Anthony Watson (England), Mattia Bellini (Italy), Teddy Thomas (France) , Damien Hoyland, Byron McGuigan (both Scotland), *Andrew Conway (Ireland).

Centres: Duncan Taylor, Matt Scott, Mark Bennett (all Scotland), *Scott Williams (Wales).

Out-halves: Matthieu Jalibert (France),*Johnny Sexton (Ireland), *Owen Farrell (England), *Dan Biggar (Wales).

Scrum-halves: Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath (both Ireland), Marcelo Violi

(Italy), *Gareth Davies (Wales).

Props: Cedate Gomes Sa (France), Zander Fagerson, Jon Welsh (both Scotland)

Hookers: Dylan Hartley (England), Camille Chat (France), George Turner, Fraser Brown (both Scotland)

Locks: Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne (both Ireland), Yoann Maestri (France), Jonny Gray, Richie Gray (both Scotland), *Joe Launchbury (England)

Back-row: Chris Robshaw, Sam Underhill (both England), Taulupe Faletau, Aaron Shingler, Dan Lydiate, *Ross Moriarty (all Wales), Dan Leavy (Ireland), Mathieu Babillot (France), John Barclay, Hamish Watson, David Denton, Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson, Luke Hamilton( all Scotland), Jake Polledri, Renato Giamarioli (both Italy), *Brad Shields (England).

Why let kickers steal a yard?

As the seasons come and go, rugby becomes ever more a game of inches. Every so often the length, or lack of it, is finer still, reduced to millimetres, as any TMO will testify.

Why, then, at a time when margins have never been tighter all over the field, do referees routinely allow kickers to steal far more than a few inches over penalties to touch?

Last weekend’s European matches provided recurring evidence of such kicks taken a metre or two or three ahead of the mark.

Law 20 states: “A penalty or free kick is taken from where it is awarded or anywhere behind it on a line through the mark and parrallel to the touchlines. When a penalty or free kick is taken at the wrong place, it must be retaken.”

The sooner referees are equipped with an aerosol can, the better.


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