Owens surprised by England’s reaction

Date published: February 28 2017

World-renowned referee Nigel Owens was surprised by England's reaction to Italy's ruck tactic in the game and afterwards.

Italy's strategy of not committing players to the rucks during their fixture against England confused their opposition, so much so that flanker James Haskell had to ask what a ruck was mid-game.

The strategy was criticised by England during the clash and afterwards by coach Eddie Jones as he didn't believe it was a part of rugby.

Owens conceded that he was perplexed by England's reaction considering that the strategy has been used before, and to great effect.

"This tactic was done by the Chiefs in Super Rugby about two years ago and it's been done quite recently by a few teams. The Dragons did it last week on a couple of occasions when I was refereeing out in Connacht.

"It's nothing new. It's something we referees have discussed of how we’re going to referee it. We’ve been made aware it’s a tactic that’s within the laws of the game whether we agree with it or like it or not," Owens told Brian Moore's Full Contact.

"I am surprised because I’ve been in with the Welsh squad two or three times this year going through different things and refereeing some contact sessions, and explaining a couple of things to them. Wayne Barnes was in with England last week. JP Doyle and a few of the English referees have been in with England as well. Whether or not, they’ve discussed this thing – I would be very surprised if they haven’t. I’d be surprised if players don't know this.

"I believe James Haskell asked the question; 'What is a ruck?'. If he asked that question, he doesn’t know what it is… I'm surprised that they don't know."