Ireland’s front row appeared decidedly off message to New Zealand official Keith Brown on Saturday, who adhered to demands for consistency in the application of recently-introduced interpretations of the game’s laws.
International Rugby Board referee manager Paddy O’Brien had told the annual IRB High Performance Referees meeting in London that particular attention should be paid to a consistent delivery of the “crouch, touch, pause, engage” scrum sequence and pointed to a 40% decrease in the number of resets in the 2010 Tri-Nations.
However, those statistics will have taken a severe battering following the Ireland versus Samoa game, with lengthy delays throughout. One scrum on the Samoan five-metre line had to be reset three times in the first half before the hosts were penalised for collapsing. The final 10 minutes were also peppered with interruptions while the referee talked to the home side’s front row on several occasions.
“If all the referees adjudicate like that, I think you’ll find we won’t be the only ones with a little bit of confusion,” O’Driscoll said. “Front-row play is far from my area of expertise, but what I get from the boys was there were huge delays between each call. You’re used to a certain amount of tempo in the calling. It’s difficult when you’ve got second rows stuck to you, you’re trying to get a dominant hit, while trying to make sure you’re right on the call as well. It’s a very fine line. The longer the hold is, the harder it is for the boys to actually get the hit. It seemed like an eternity at times. Maybe we’ll find out later on that how things are going to be refereed from now on.”
The England pack had reportedly listened to tapes of their match referee Roman Poite’s sequence ahead of their clash with Australia and O’Driscoll admitted that the teams had been forewarned of the slowdown in what is known as “the cadence”.
“He said beforehand he would take longer than Nigel (Owens) last week, that new rulings had been given during the week and that was the way it was going. Clearly, there’s a bit of confusion there.”