Steve Diamond: Premiership will adopt Italy tactics, says Sale boss
Italy’s controversial tactics will “no doubt” come to the Premiership, says Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond.
The Azzurri decided not to compete at the ruck during their 36-15 Six Nations defeat by England on Sunday.
World Rugby have told the BBC it could ‘clarify’ the law, but despite the grey area Diamond thinks the idea is likely to be adopted in the Premiership.
“One or two bright coaches, like Conor O’Shea, will bring it into the Premiership now, no doubt,” he said.
Italy’s unusual playing style meant there was no offside after a tackle, allowing their players to interrupt England’s attacking line and cause confusion.
England coach Eddie Jones said Italy’s play “wasn’t rugby”, but O’Shea believes the plan, masterminded by defence coach Brendan Venter, “challenged people’s minds”.
Rugby’s governing body commented that it was “too early to speculate” about potential rule changes, meaning that, for the time-being at least, the tactic might be tempting to Premiership coaches.
‘No one wants to watch that rubbish’
However, Sale, who are 10th in the Premiership, will not be taking a leaf out of O’Shea’s book.
“I could never bring in something as contentious as that,” Diamond told BBC Radio Manchester.
“The laws are intricate, but there’s always the ability to manipulate them.
“The fact of the matter is you’ve got the most prestigious rugby competition in the world on and no one wants to watch that rubbish; we want to see a good, abrasive game.
“It’s a bit like cowardice. It’s like walking backwards at scrums instead of hitting through the mark, but it’s within the laws.”
‘It’s been a theme in the last few weeks’
Diamond said he would prepare his side to counter the tactics.
“I think that as soon as it happens to you, you should just pick and go as they’ve got nobody behind the ruck,” he added.
Northampton, who play Sale in the Premiership on Friday, are also guarding against the possibility of the opposition adopting such tactics.
“I’m surprised England didn’t pick up on it because it’s been a theme in the last few weeks,” Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton.
“Referees have been talking very specifically about whether it’s a tackle situation or a maul. [Northampton coach] Dorian West has been doing quite a lot of work with the team for those situations.
“It was surprising that England hadn’t spoken about it previously.”