Belfast Telegraph

McGahan in the dark over IRB’s tackle law

The chaos surrounding the IRB's decision to implement stricter interpretations of the tackle law threatens to overshadow another huge Irish rugby occasion after it emerged that Magners League referees are not instructing teams to follow the new diktat.

Ahead of tomorrow night's Good Friday showdown between Leinster and Munster, the latter's coach Tony McGahan has revealed that nobody within the province has received instructions similar to those so controversially imposed on Declan Kidney's Irish side in the middle of the Six Nations championship.

“As far as I know, we're still operating under the interpretation that has served its purpose in the competitions that we play in,” says McGahan. “We haven't been informed of any change in interpretation of any rule. The two referees we've had have sensed that they are going on the old interpretation and throwing in some of the new interpretation.

“We're obviously taking steps to make sure we're not surprised by anything, that if it does go to that we can cope with anything.”

Celtic League chief David Jordan confirmed that he had neither issued nor received official instruction regarding the referees in his competition.

Tomorrow's referee, French man Romain Poite, yellow-carded Paul O'Connell during a Heineken Cup clash against Northampton before Christmas. Next week's Heineken Cup quarter-finals will see the referees on duty adhering to the new interpretations.

Meanwhile, Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas has defended Twickenham's decision to back England manager Martin Johnson through to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

“Martin Johnson has got the management board's complete confidence through to the World Cup,” said Thomas. “I know there is a perception we have been harsh in the past, perhaps you will credit us for being gentler in the future.”

Belfast Telegraph

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