Ireland have been blasted for supposedly faking injuries in Saturday’s World Cup victory over Australia.
The astonishing accusation comes from Wallabies’ great Tim Horan who made his controversial comments in a newspaper column.
Double World Cup winner Horan slammed Declan Kidney’s men for slowing the game and frustrating Australia by faking injuries at every breakdown in play.
Horan said he was convinced of Ireland’s ploy after speaking to a source in Kidney’s camp.
“If James Horwill was more experienced as a captain, he would have blown up about it to referee Bryce Lawrence and really created a scene — there is no way Richie McCaw would have stayed silent if a team used the same tactics against the All Blacks,” Horan wrote.
“Australia’s future opponents will have taken notice of the strategy. Ireland had a game plan for Australia and it worked a treat: to slow the game down just for stoppages, target them in the scrum, and put the high ball up at every opportunity.
“They also used the ‘choker tackle’ taught by their defensive coach Les Kiss. They identified that the Australian midfield ran quite upright and successfully held them up to get turnovers.”
Horan said the biggest regret was that referee Bryce Lawrence had “destroyed the spectacle of the game”.
“Ireland deserved to win and always would have won, but the way Lawrence handled the match means he should not get another game at the World Cup,” Horan wrote.
“It is about the spectacle, not just for the rugby diehards but general sports fans who want to enjoy this tournament.”
Horan was critical of the Aussies, saying they “ran when they should have kicked, and kicked when they should have run”.
“But the Wallabies also have to realise that one in every 15 Test matches you play, you’re going to have to win by playing a boring, unattractive brand of rugby, simply because of the conditions,” he wrote.
“You’re going to win 9-6 or 12-6, playing in the wet, in an ordinary Test, but it doesn’t matter how unattractive it is — you do whatever it takes to winTrying to play to one game plan all the time will not work when, like last Saturday, there was torrential rain beforehand and the ball was slippery.”
Meanwhile, Tony Buckley insists a run of games would help solve one of the great enigmas of Irish rugby.
Buckley has often hinted at devastating potential — most notably against the All Blacks in New Zealand last year — but has too often failed to deliver.
Flashes of explosive ball carrying and destructive defence — as demonstrated by his crunching tackle on Richie McCaw — are at odds with a perceived lack of aggression.
By his own admission the 30-year-old has struggled for consistency and patience among Ireland's management for one of Test rugby's more laid back front rows is surely running out.
An opportunity to shine will come in Sunday's World Cup Pool C clash with Russia and Buckley insists he requires ownership of the jersey to prove himself.
“I have been all over the place. Last November against South Africa I played brutal and got injured,” he said. “Two weeks later against Argentina I was back and we did well, driving them off the ball. There were a few good things that happened.
“Two weeks after that I played the Ospreys and that was a nightmare, personally.
“It's been improving over the last few months. I just need a run of games and staying injury free. Trying to get games at tighthead is what I want.
“Last year up to the Toulon game at Thomond Park I was feeling really good, scoring two tries. I was looking forward to boxing on from there, but then my momentum was killed after that. Getting that place and staying there is crucial.
“If I can string five games together, then we'll see what happens.”
Buckley's prospects of usurping the brilliant Mike Ross at tighthead are remote at best with the Leinster prop almost single handedly turning the scrum into an offensive weapon.
If he must continue in the support role, then Buckley will accept his duties with stoicism.
“The back role is something I'm used to. I was back-up to John Hayes at Munster for years,” he said.
“I got a few games for Ireland but have started slipping back into that role.
“Mike has had some great matches over the last few months, so I'm stuck as fringe squad player. If I get a run of games then hopefully I'll be able to put some pressure on Mike Ross.”