Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Conor calls for clarity

Conor O'Shea would like to see a summit on scrums

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has called for referees to "stop guessing" at scrum time and advocated an international summit to bring clarity to the set-piece and breakdown.

O'Shea's comments come in the wake of England forwards coach Graham Rowntree questioning a number of the decisions made by referee Steve Walsh in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations title decider. Scotland's interim coach Scott Johnson had similar complaints following his side's defeat to Wales at Murrayfield and much of the Six Nations was disfigured by scrum collapses and re-sets.

O'Shea believes it is time the issue was addressed, and said: "Being a referee is the hardest job in the world but what infuriates people is when a call is made and it is quite obviously a guess and games change on those decisions. You can't get every decision right but it is having that consistency. When you make a decision you can't just think something has happened."

He went on: "Because a scrum disintegrates one way, is that because it is someone pulling the wool over your eyes and getting away with it? A summit on what's going on (could solve it).

"It can be difficult after you lose a game to say what you want to say.

"The big thing is you want massive consistency and both sides to be treated equally and in a manner that will give them an equal opportunity within the game.

"Will there still be decisions that are wrong? Of course there will. We all make mistakes. That is fine.

"I can understand where people come from when they see consistent officiating of one side over another. I am not saying that in relation to last week's game but it does happen."

While O'Shea's concern over the scrum is for the good of the game, it is the breakdown which bothers him most because Harlequins' style is based on quick, clean ball.

"We are from a club where our biggest area is the breakdown. The scrum is massive and I know it is the current blight. It has become an issue," O'Shea said. "But we want to play quickly and we want to make sure the tackler releases and rolls away to free up the breakdown and give more latitude to the attacking team. When a turnover that should be a penalty to one team ends up being a try for another, those are massive things. If I was on the working party that is what I would be banging on about."