George Ford and Eddie Jones have called on World Rugby to address the law that allowed Italy to flout the offside rule and cause England to endure one of their most frustrating days under the Australian head coach, with the fly-half warning that the tactics will “kill the game quickly”.
Jones cut an irate figure in his post-match press conference, labelling the tactics “not rugby” and joking that he will retire from the game if teams were allowed to get away with such ploys. It was a feeling echoed by his squad, who overcame a below-par start to triumph 36-15 and maintain their run towards a second consecutive Six Nations Grand Slam success.
Italy stemmed England’s attack after head coach Conor O’Shea and defence coach Brendan Venter encouraged their side to stay out of the breakdown, meaning that no ruck or offside line could form, and as a result run around the tackle to prevent the ball being pass to the England backline.
“I hope it will get addressed before the Scotland game because if teams do that it is going to kill the game quickly,” said Ford. “There’s no rugby going to be played.
“I don’t think that’s good for the game that sort of stuff happening. You could see the frustrations from the players, the fans and the coaches. It’s just not what the game should be like. But if stays in we are going to have to adapt to it. It certainly something we’re going to have to learn from.
“It’s going to kill the game quickly. No rugby is going to be played, it is going to be very, very difficult to get any momentum and phases in attack if teams do that. It’s certainly something that we’re going to have to learn from.”
Jones was scathing in his assessment of the tactics deployed by his former understudy, having brought Venter to Saracens 10 years ago before the South African replaced him as head coach, and also criticised referee Romain Poite for becoming “flustered” in his ruling of the match.