Irish Examiner columnist Ronan O'Gara believes discipline "could win a World Cup" as teams have had to adapt to new interpretations of the tackle laws.
In the below video, O'Gara, fellow columnist Donal Lenihan and Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan discussed how the interpretation of high tackles, Hawkeye, and HIA protocols can have a major bearing on the outcome of World Cup matches.
Speaking at the Irish Examiner Rugby World Cup Tournament Preview earlier this week, O'Gara explained that "anything over shoulder height is a yellow card straight away, and head contact is a red card, so it's a massive advantage to a team if they can manage to keep fifteen on the pitch, but it's easier said than done.
"I think a lot of people watching at home make the mistake that these guys - you know, their hearts are going over 180 beats per minute, they’re under the pump, their decision-making is pressurised, and sometimes they mightn’t have any intent in terms of that but that’s not the law - the law states it like this, so I think that’s the difference between acts and words in terms of discipline because you have to train that."
According to the former Ireland international, a team's discipline can lead to other advantages. "The guys who can kind of manage the discipline aspect between the 23 of them on the day will be huge because rugby’s a game of momentum, when you lose that and you give away a penalty or you’re down to 14 it completely just gives such an advantage from an attacking point of view, especially the way a lot of teams are rush-defending.
"If you want a rush defence you can only do that if you get your spacing right, so you need 15 players on the pitch."
Fellow Irish Examiner columnist Donal Lenihan, who will also be on commentary duty in Japan, was part of a television briefing by Alain Rolland, World Rugby's High Performance Match Officials Manager. Lenihan added that the former referee has also been involved in briefings with officials in Japan, and that "the protocol around the high tackle or a hit to the head is very clear and very specific."
Lenihan outlines the protocol in full in the video below, while Johann van Graan provides an insight into how the tackle interpretations can influence coaching decisions, as well as the HIA protocols.