It is time to put an end to defending players clattering scorers on the ground, argues Cian Tracey of the Irish Independent

Rugby Rant: Stop defenders kneeing try-scorers

OF ALL the attempts to make the game safer, it still boggles the mind that World Rugby have not done more to clamp down on players sliding in with their knees as a try is being scored.

Brian O’Driscoll summed it up well when he said: “It’s not football, you can’t slide tackle.” Yet two years later, nothing appears to have changed.

It has reached the stage now where it’s difficult to know what exactly we are waiting to see happen before such reckless acts are punished appropriately because it is not as if players have not been injured by this already.

The incident O’Driscoll was referring to occurred in Castres in 2018 when Benjamin Urdapilleta slid in knee-first as Andrew Conway attempted to regather the ball shy of the try-line. The Munster winger was lucky not to have been seriously hurt, but he wasn’t as fortunate six months earlier when he was on the end of a similarly poor attempted ‘tackle’.

That time it was in Melbourne during Ireland’s second-Test win over Australia, as Dane Haylett-Petty led with his knees, which forced Conway off and prematurely ended his tour.

“It should be a case of: adjust your body position or face the consequences”

You don’t have to look too far to see this kind of thing happening week in, week out at every level. But unless it is stamped out at the very top, it will continue to be a blight on the game.

Jack Nowell sliding into Alban Placines in the Exeter-Toulouse Champions Cup semi-final was highlighted on BT Sport. And the opening weekend of the Pro14 threw up another example when Scarlets’ Kieran Hardy hurled himself, knees-first, in the direction of Chris Farrell, who had just got over the line for Munster.

This particular incident again went unpunished and what made it even more perplexing was that the referee, his two assistants and the TMO held up the game for several minutes to have a look at Peter O’Mahony needlessly dropping his shoulder on a Scarlets player who lay helplessly on the ground.

The Munster captain was correctly shown a second yellow card, but having watched several replays of the whole thing, it beggared belief that none of the officials saw it necessary to pick up on Hardy’s knee slide.

This has become such a persistent problem in the game that players will continue to do what is, let’s face it, a dirty piece of play, until they are called up on it – when in fact it should be a case of: adjust your body position or face the consequences.

Come on, World Rugby, let’s stamp this nonsense out of the game before it gets even further out of hand.

This article originally appeared in the December 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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