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6 Nations

Itoje’s aerial collision with Earls should have been at least a yellow.

We’ve broke it down and explain why it should have been more than a penalty

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Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

We put the question out to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers – “Should this have been more than a penalty after Maro Itoje and Keith Earls collided in the air?”

To say we got a mixed response would be an understatement.

Here’s the incident in question.

A broad summary would indicate that English fans thought it was legit, Irish fans thought it was filthy. We take a look at the incident as a neutral.

Firstly, England were the better the team and deserved winners but this incident along with the Manu Tuilagi incident have been major talking points since the weekend.

We’ve taken the incident and broke it into 6 pictures and do the classic, ‘say what you see’

via GIPHY

  1. Wide shot – Earls eyes are already on the ball, Itoje looking straight ahead towards Earls.
  2. Itoje gets closer and eyes remain on Earls whose eyes still remain fixed on the ball.
  3. Itoje gets off the floor first, looking towards the sky for the first time, Earls prepare to take to the air, eyes still on the ball.
  4. Moment of impact, Itoje leads with the knee which is perfectly normal but eyes looking at Earls. Earls still has eyes on the ball. The ball is still not even in the picture at the time of impact.
  5. Itoje being the bigger & heavier man and in the air first naturally dominates the physics of the collision. The ball finally enters the picture a few metres behind the collision, Earls is already perpendicular with the floor
  6. Earls and the ball hit the floor at the same time. No one near the ball.

Looking at the clip, broken down there can be no denying regardless if you are an English or Irish fan, Itoje is not in a realistic position to take the ball at any point. When the ball enters the picture, Itoje has already clattered Earls around 3m beyond the flight of the ball. Whether you believe this is deliberate and Itoje’s only intention was to collide with Earls or he simply got his timing totally wrong, the outcome should have been more than a penalty.

Below is the applicable law.

Law 10.4 – ‘Challenging players in the air’

There are 4 possible outcomes. We look at each one and apply it to the play in question.

Play on – Fair challenge with both players in a realistic position to catch the ball. Even if the player(s) land(s) dangerously, play on. – Itoje not in a realistic position to catch the ball.

Penalty only – Fair challenge with wrong timing – No pulling down. – Not a fair challenge as Itoje has jumped around 3m beyond the flight of the ball.

Yellow card – Not a fair challenge, there is no contest and the player is pulled down landing on his back or side. – Earls is not pulled down, the momentum and weight of Itoje cause Earls to lose the collision and land on back.

Red card – It’s not a fair challenge with no contest, whilst being a reckless or deliberate foul play action and the player lands in a dangerous position. The challenge is not a contest as Itoje is way beyond the flight of the ball, it could be argued it’s reckless and could also be argued deliberate foul play.

Having looked at the law and the available options to the referee, ‘Play on’ and ‘Penalty only’ can not be considered as valid options in this scenario as there is no ‘fair challenge’ for the ball. Itoje was never in a postion to challenge for the ball as he was several metres in beyond it.

With ‘Play on’ and ‘Penalty only’ now not available options the remaining options are ‘Yellow’ or ‘Red’. This then comes down to whether you feel the collision was reckless and your interpretation of Itoje’s intentions. I personally feel that Itoje is far too good a rugby player to get his timing and positioning that wrong. Reckless is defined in the dictionary as ‘ utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless’. For me, Itoje’s actions fit that description. My interpretation of whether his actions were deliberate foul play. Again, I believe that he’s far too good a player to get it that wrong and his intention was purely to collide with Earls. According to the Laws and based on my interpration of reckless and deliberate foul play this would be a red card decision.

As an English fan I feel this would have been a harsh decision and even as an Irish fan, I would feel this would be a little harsh but for the ref to give a penalty and not even refer it to the TMO I feel was a mistake. Perhaps some of the Twitter responses were right and the decision to Sin Bin Tom Curry (harshly in my opinion) came into the equation on this decision.

If you were the man in the middle on Saturday, how would you have dealt with the incident. Vote below:

Ps – Before anyone says it… we know Connor Murray blocked Elliot Daly

6 Nations

Scotland’s summer Test schedule finalised

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Scotland’s summer Test schedule has been finalised with the news that Scotland A will face England A at Leicester’s Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday 27 June, before the full national team heads to Europe to face Romania on 10 July and Georgia on 17 July in Test matches.

The British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa headlines a busy July programme that will see 25 of the top 30 ranked unions in action with several hosting or being hosted for the first time since the pandemic began, including world champions South Africa, and Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts Japan.

In line with government guidance, stadiums will be operating at a reduced capacity. It is expected that 6,000 supporters will be welcomed at Welford Road, with the potential to increase these numbers if government guidelines allow in the coming weeks.

Ticket details for England A v Scotland A will be confirmed shortly.

Scotland’s schedule will be overseen by Interim Head Coach Mike Blair, who will take charge in Gregor Townsend’s stead given his involvement as Attack Coach for the British & Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa.

Kick-off times and broadcast arrangements are to be confirmed.

On the news of an A fixture, Scottish Rugby’s Director of High Performance, Jim Mallinder, said: “For me, the ability to play A team fixtures is a key area of player development and given the depth we are now able to draw on around the Scotland men’s national team, it will provide an important opportunity for those pushing for international selection.

“After seeing such a positive number of Scotland players called up for the British & Irish Lions the summer series of matches opens up our options even further for player selection.”

Source – Scotland Rugby

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6 Nations

British & Irish Lions issue Tour Update

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions and SA Rugby have confirmed they are aligned on delivering the Castle Lager Lions Series in South Africa in the scheduled playing window.

The Lions Board confirmed its preference to SA Rugby on Monday evening, prior to follow-up meetings earlier today (Tuesday).

“After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the Board’s intended position is for the Tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021,” said Jason Leonard, chairman of The British & Irish Lions.

“We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust COVID-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted Tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan.”

Mark Alexander, president of the SA Rugby, said he would inform the Executive Council of the South African Rugby Union of the alignment.

“We appreciate the Lions’ faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour,” said Alexander.

“We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.

“There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby, should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners.”

Alexander said the original tour schedule was subject to review because of those considerations. Should any changes be required they will be communicated as soon as possible.

Leonard added: “Every British and Irish player dreams of wearing the famous red jersey, and players from the southern hemisphere aspire to be part of a Lions series. We owe it to the current players vying for a place in both squads to ensure they can become part of Lions history.

“We are very much looking forward to taking on South Africa for what promises to be a highly-competitive Series against the reigning World Champions.”

Alexander thanked the Castle Lager Lions Series’ commercial partners as well as the British & Irish Lions and ticket holders for their patience during the extended period of uncertainty.

“As hosts and ‘owners’ of the Castle Lager Lions Series no one has been more affected or more challenged by the current circumstances than SA Rugby,” said Alexander. “However, with the support of our government and good planning we can navigate the pandemic to nonetheless create a most memorable event for players, fans and partners.”

It is not yet known whether international or cross-border travel for supporters will be possible into the country in July. Supporters who have purchased ticket-inclusive packages through Lions Rugby Travel will be notified directly via email with information on the options available.

The Lions remind supporters that all packages purchased through Lions Rugby Travel are protected by the Covid-19 guarantee*. Supporters who have booked packages with official sub agents should contact them directly. For the latest guidance on travelling to South Africa please visit the UK Foreign Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa or the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs website: https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/south-africa/

At this time, it also remains unclear whether spectators will be permitted into stadia in July and August. SA Rugby and the Lions continue to work with relevant South African Government departments to ascertain the latest guidance on COVID-19 countermeasure planning for major sporting events and will communicate any updates as soon as it is possible to do so.

In the event that spectators are not permitted to gain access to the Test matches, Lions supporters who had successfully purchased Test match tickets via the Lions ticket ballot will be refunded.

The British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June 2021 for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup will continue as scheduled. However, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event and in line with the latest UK Government guidance. For more information, including ticketing enquiries, please visit:
https://www.lionsrugby.com/1888-cup-faqs/

The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.

*For more information please visit www.lionstour.com

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6 Nations

Ireland make multiple changes for England

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

The Ireland coaching group have named their final match day squad of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championships ahead of the Round 5 clash with England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

There are a number of changes to the team that started against Scotland last Sunday starting in the half-backs where Captain Johnny Sexton is joined in by Conor Murray.

Garry Ringrose is ruled out of the side through injury so Bundee Aki slots in at inside centre with Robbie Henshaw shifting to the No.13 jersey.

Jacob Stockdale returns to the team for the first time since the Autumn Nations Cup win over Scotland back in December and is named on the left wing with Keith Earls on and Hugo Keenan completing the back three.

In the front row Dave Kilcoyne starts at loosehead alongside Rob Herring at hooker and Tadhg Furlong at tighthead. 

Tadhg Beirne moves into lock to partner Iain Henderson in the absence of the injured James Ryan.

Will Connors was ruled out yesterday with a knee injury in training so Josh van der Flier comes in at openside. CJ Stander moves to 6 for his final Ireland game in Aviva Stadium and Jack Conan is named at No.8.

Speaking this week about Stander, Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton commented,

“He’s done things for the right reason. His wife and daughter are back in South Africa at the moment. They’ve been there for a few months and they went back for the last lockdown as well.

“It takes its toll, doesn’t it? He’s just taken the decision based on family reasons and we respect him for that, but he’s a big loss to Munster and Irish Rugby.

“He’s been huge for both teams over the last five, six years. Very shocked, but we wish him well and we hope that his last game in green will be one to remember.”

The replacements are Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson Park, Billy Burns and Jordan Larmour.

The game is being televised by VIRGIN (ROI) and ITV (NI) and kicks off at 4.45pm on Saturday afternoon.

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Engalnd, 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 20, kick-off 4:45pm):

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 10 caps
14. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 92 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 51 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 30 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 33 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 98 caps CAPTAIN
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 88 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 42 caps
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 20 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 48 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 62 caps
5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 21 caps
6. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 50 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 30 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 19 caps

Replacements
16. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 10 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 108 caps
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 36 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 2 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 74 caps
21. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 9 caps
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 6 caps
23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 28 caps

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