Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Niall Crozier: Injuries claim is unsporting and smacks of sour grapes

Former Australia centre Tim Horan is a two-times World Cup winner.



Which makes his allegation that Ireland faked injury to slow play down in order to frustrate the Wallabies in last Saturday morning’s epic battle, coupled with a claim that referee Bryce Lawrence had “destroyed the spectacle of the game”, very sad.

It smacks of very sour grapes.

His admission that “Ireland deserved to win and always would have won,” is totally overshadowed by his assertion that “the way Lawrence handled the match means he should not get another game at the World Cup”.

That verbal assault runs contrary to the traditions, spirit and ethos of the game Horan graced. It is also inaccurate.

In all honesty I have no recollection of Ireland deploying the ‘faking it’ tactics to which he alludes, or of Bryce Lawrence having refereed it other than both well and fairly.

Horan was closer to the mark in suggesting that Australia “ran when they should have kicked, and kicked when they should have run”.

That is a reasonably-put analysis. But his accusations about Irish gamesmanship – no, let’s call a spade a spade, Ireland’s alleged cheating – is not. Instead it is unwarranted and unsporting.

Where Horan did get it right was in highlighting Ireland’s spot-on tactics, namely taking the Wallabies on in the scrum, testing them under the high ball and maximising the wholly legitimate choke-tackle on midfielders whose upright running invited just such a strategy.

Yes, Irish backs’ coach Alan Gaffney and defence guru Les Kiss are Australians, for which reason they knew exactly how to go about countering their fellow-countrymen.

That is what professional coaches are paid to do.

This Sunday, for example, Ireland take on Russia whose off-field personnel include former Irish strength and conditioning coach Paul Pook. Obviously he will have passed on everything he knows about Ireland’s players and patterns.

In the unlikely event of an upset at Rotorua, I just hope that no retired Irish player does the game and his country the disservice of which I believe Tim Horan to be guilty.

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