Scott Robertson calls for game to be ‘sped up’ as go-slow England cause delays

Colin Newboult
England players alongside All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson.

England players alongside All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson.

Scott Robertson says that they are in the “entertainment game” after the All Blacks’ clash with England on Saturday was interspersed with several breaks in play.

It was a thrilling Test match in Dunedin, with New Zealand eventually coming out on top by a point.

They were 15-10 in arrears before a brace of Damian McKenzie penalties helped them to kick-start the Robertson era with a 16-15 triumph.

The Red Rose were close to getting over the line in what would have been a historic triumph, doing all they could to defeat the All Blacks for the first time since 2003.

England’s aim would have been to slow the hosts down and play at their own pace, and there were a number of stoppages as their players received treatment.

Gamesmanship?

Some would suggest an element of gamesmanship was at play and, although Robertson did not accuse the tourists of such antics, the 49-year-old does want to see the sport played at a greater pace.

New Zealand’s head coach did caveat that by insisting it must not be at the expense of player safety but, ultimately, Robertson feels that rugby union can be quicker.

“Yeah, look, our game wants to be sped up doesn’t it? That’s why we’re in the entertainment game, but also in the safety game as well, so we get a balance for it,” he told reporters. “We want to keep moving.”

World Rugby have made a conscious effort to speed up the game by telling referees to set up scrums and lineouts quicker, while also introducing shot clocks, which is something the All Blacks ironically fell foul of on Saturday.

“We want to have a look at timing, ball in play and getting on to the next lineout, or whatever it is,” Robertson added.

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The All Blacks boss was also asked a question about the officiating after they were penalised at the scrum a couple of times, despite shunting England backwards.

“All those things around officiating we’ll do privately. It’s a game of respect. We’ve got some questions,” he said.

“Just the officiating on the scrums and how we can be better, so we get better pictures for the ref, and get better outcomes.”

Small margins

The All Blacks were tested by England but they managed to control the final quarter and finish on the right side of the scoreline.

They will look to build on that result after Robertson was given a stark reminder of the challenges international rugby brings.

“It was the reality of Test footy and how close the margins are, and how important the little things are in the game,” the head coach said.

“I’m really proud of the group. They thought on their feet, made some really good decisions and found a way to win that.

“A lot of the players got some time under their belt, a few boys hadn’t played for a while. We embedded a lot through the week and now we can just get into it.”

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