Wales considered faking injury in World Cup semi, admits Gatland
AUCKLAND, Oct 18 — Wales considered faking an injury to a player to force a move to uncontested scrums during their rugby World Cup semi-final against France last weekend, coach Warren Gatland said today.
The Welsh lost starting prop Adam Jones to a calf injury and flanker Sam Warburton to a red card in the first quarter of the Eden Park match, which they lost 9-8 after playing for more than an hour with 14 men.
With replacement prop Paul James already on the pitch, an injury to him or the other prop Gethin Jenkins would have automatically triggered a situation where neither team was allowed to push at the scrum.
That would have a been a considerable advantage to Wales, whose seven-man pack were coming under huge pressure at the scrum and conceded one of three penalties that France’s Morgan Parra converted when their front row collapsed.
Still fuming about the red card shown to Warburton for his tackle on France winger Vincent Clerc, Gatland cited the incident as an illustration of why referee Alain Rolland’s dismissal of his captain was against the spirit of the game.
“We’d already lost Adam Jones, and we discussed in the box; did we fake an injury to one of our props to go to uncontested scrums?” he told reporters today.
“But morally, I made the decision that was not the right thing to do.
“We could have easily done that in the first 25-30 minutes. But in the spirit of the game, in the spirit of the World Cup semi-final, I didn’t think that was the fairest or the right thing to do.
“That’s why I honestly believe Alain Rolland made the wrong decision; I think the right decision would have been a yellow card.
“Under the terms of the rules and regulations, he is perfectly entitled to give a red card but every game is different and you’ve got to take into account the circumstances, situation and the intent.
“In that situation, given the circumstances and his experience, the yellow card was the right decision.”
The International Rugby Board (IRB) and referees’ chief Paddy O’Brien have offered their full support to Rolland and reiterated their “zero tolerance” policy on spear tackles. — Reuters