Yesterday's Rugby Games

Yesterday, we watched a little of the Rugby on television. There were two six nations games. First up was Ireland vs. Scotland. This was a much closer run thing than it had any right to be. Scotland should have been hammered, but they kept fighting and it went to the line with an Irish win of 19-18. There is some controversy surrounding this game as one of the Irish players had his airway restricted, and the Irish coach is claiming it was deliberate (a very serious charge indeed, and to my mind, potentially a police matter).

Next was Wales vs. Italy. This was always going to be a much closer affair, with Wales desperate to avoid the wooden spoon, and Italy keen to show that their victory against Scotland was not a flash in the pan. This was a really good game, and I was on the edge of my seat.... however, sorry Wales, I was supporting Italy. The game went back and forth between the two sides, but the controversy came at the end. Update: I've made a timeline of the events, available here.

With 3 points in it and seconds to go, Wales were awarded a penalty. A kick would have seen them draw, but a try would see them win. They appeared to ask the referee if there was enough time to attempt the win, and the ref appeared to say yes. They decided to forego the draw and kick to touch. The ref then blew for full time before the lineout. I could not believe this, nor could the Welsh, as they appeared to have asked explicitly. On the other hand, comments on the 606 board on the BBC website seem to say the sequence was a little different to how I perceived it:

'Hook asked how long we had left and White said there was about 10 seconds.

Hook asked if we could kick to touch and White said 'yes, carry on'.

So according to this the Ref was NOT asked if there was time for the line out.

Either way, it was a tough call - and as someone said in this discussion, perhaps the rules should allow for a single lineout after a penalty, even if the clock has ticked past the 80 minutes.

As someone else said:

I don't see the referee being lambasted for not noticing it was a Welsh hand that created the 'knock-on' preventing a very good opportunity for an Italian try in the first half. These things have a habit of evening themselves out

I quite agree, overall, though the Welsh were hard-done-by at the end, the result of 23-20 to Italy was just.

In the Guinness Premiership, Wasps were playing Harlequins, and when I checked earlier in the game Wasps were trailing (unsurprising, it was an away game after all) - but at the end we had clawed it back, to what, I think, is our first away win in the premiership this season! The score was 23-16.

Elsewhere in the Guinness Premiership, Bath beat Northampton 22-17. I'm quite pleased with that as it keeps the relegation battle alive - and I've a slightly soft spot for Worcester as I've seen them play twice this season - losing both times, but losing with such style that they I've wondered why they're not higher in the table.

Bristol lost to London Irish, 7-12. This is good from a partisan perspective, as it means that Bristol are just two points ahead of Wasps (with a game in hand though), but Wasps are still 8 points clear of Irish.

On Friday, Sale lost to Worcester, 12 to 18, which I'm happy with for the reasons given for Bath-Northampton result.

Gloucester are to play Leicester today. I'm unsure what the ideal result would be - a Gloucester win would see them leapfrog Wasps with a game in hand, but keep Leicester in the sights. A Leicester win would keep Wasps above Gloucester, but only just - and they've still a game to play.

I'm not sure who I want to win!

The Premiership as of 10th March '07
  Team
P
W
D
L
F
A
BP
PTS
1 Leicester 17 11 1 5 437 322 10 56
2 Bristol 17 11 1 5 297 274 6 52
3 Wasps 18 10 1 7 403 320 9 51
4 Gloucester 16 11 1 4 377 284 4 50
5 Saracens 17 9 2 6 415 319 7 47
6 London Irish 17 10 0 7 310 295 3 43
7 Harlequins 18 8 0 10 376 354 8 40
8 Bath 18 7 1 10 339 405 7 37
9 Sale 18 7 0 11 346 384 7 35
10 Newcastle 17 7 0 10 349 442 6 34
11 Northampton 17 5 0 12 242 377 6 26
12 Worcester 18 4 1 13 268 383 7 25

Update: 12:45 - the last six minutes of the game are on youtube.