ENGLAND legend Matt Dawson has questioned the “confusing” decisions around high tackles at the Rugby World Cup, and called for more consistency from officials.
The former World Cup winner’s remarks come after France’s Romain Taofifenua avoided a red card for a high tackle in their fixture against Uruguay on Thursday.
England’s Tom Curry (left) was red carded for this on Argentina’s Juan Mallia[/caption]
Legend Matt Dawson has called for more consistency from World Cup officials[/caption]
Since England’s Tom Curry was sent off for a similar offence, South Africa centre Jesse Kriel remained on the field without a review for a similar looking offence against Scotland while Chile’s Martin Sigren received a yellow for his tackle against Japan.
The 50-year-old, who has partnered with The National Lottery ahead of England’s World Cup game against Japan this Sunday, to highlight the importance of funding for grassroots rugby clubs, said: “It needs consistency.
“If you’re a nine, 10-year-old watching the sport and you’re seeing England’s Tom Curry get sent off because it’s a head on head collision, then you’re going to get sent off.
“And then less than a week later, there’s two incidents where contact to the head means you stay on or you just get 10 minutes in the sin bin.
“It’s a little bit confusing but I’m sure it will be ironed out.
“My own view is if in doubt, I think it’s only fair it all goes to red, particularly around the head contact.
“Otherwise we’re just bringing on confusion and controversy… the priority is around player welfare, so let’s focus on that.”
When quizzed on if there was enough difference between the high tackle incidents, Dawson said: “I’m not so sure. If you’re having to look at a replay tens of times to determine whether it skimmed a shoulder or that’s a poor tackle technique, and the force has gone onto the head, then it’s got to be as good as hitting the head.
“I think the difficulty is when lawyers get involved in it, and coaches quite rightly want their best players available. As a sport, we need to unite a bit, which they will.
“The mitigation around it needs to be more significant.”
Dawson described the tournament so far as “captivating”, predicting that an upset was on the cards.
“There’s been some fabulous fixtures, all the way since the opening game. You saw France at their best against New Zealand.
“We’ve yet to have the upset, and there will be one in the pool stage where it gets the headlines for the underdog. It looks like the tournament is trending nicely.”
Pressed on who he thinks could catch the eye from an England perspective, Dawson singled out Saracens’ Ben Earl.
Saracens and their foundation has received £64,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England, which has gone towards rugby programme and coaching sessions designed to encourage more people to take up the sport.
He said Earl and several of his England colleagues are beneficiaries of the National Lottery funding, which raises £30m every week for good causes.
And since 1994, The National Lottery has invested more than £185 million into rugby union from grassroots to elite level, providing vital support to clubs throughout the UK.
Dawson added: “One of the players I know has benefited from that kind of funding is Ben Earl.
“I think there are five or six players who have come through the academy. All of a sudden, you’ve got someone in Earl who is relatively new to that position, but now there’s a stage for him.
“He’s got all the attributes. He’s probably got some attributes other number 8s don’t have. He’s getting noticed and he’s making a difference to the England side.”
Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery, said: “Every week National Lottery players raise over £30million in funding to good causes across the UK, including support for clubs such as Saracens.
“Funding for grassroots clubs is essential to keep young people invested in sports, as it teaches them invaluable life skills.
“With the upcoming tournament, what better occasion to celebrate the work that Saracens and others across England do to secure the future of the sport.”