We
might be lucky the British press is consumed with some round-ball carnival in Germany at present
or Australian rugby could be subjected to a little tabloid retaliation over
stories that come close to implying England cheated last
weekend by faking injuries to two props.

First
News Ltd’s Peter Jenkins reported anonymous Australian team officials as suggesting the claimed injuries
were dodgy, that England just wanted another flanker on the field by having uncontested
scrums, and then the SMH’sSpiro
Zavos
weighed in along those lines himself.

I
could only find one half-mention of the issue in the British press, this
sentence in the Times’s match report:

The scrums were uncontested in the second half after England’s
props failed to reappear after the interval, which had Australia’s
management muttering darkly given that their tight five had established a
degree of parity.

The Independent was unhappy with uncontested scrums but betrayed no hint of questionable
gamesmanship while Sporting Life
reported the English coach, Andy Robinson, as insisting both props had to be
replaced on medical advice.

Which
is all a bit hypocritical, given the calm acceptance of Matt Dunning’s claimed
injury at Twickenham last year. If any team was ever in a position to benefit
greatly from uncontested scrums, it was the Wallabies on that occasion.
Something about pots and kettles and carbon applies if folks start making
allegations on purely circumstantial evidence.

The
reality is that teams routinely cheat – and not by just pulling hair. Rules
that can be exploited inevitably will be exploited. Which is why the
uncontested scrum rule must be changed to include an element of penalty against
the side that can’t pack down properly – say ten metres or the option of a free
kick.

Meanwhile
the Wallaby comeback should remain on track against Ireland this
weekend. While Ireland has a useful
team, it would be a major blow to Wallaby rebuilding plans if we lose. After
the embarrassment of the Australian rugby sevens team being beaten by Russia earlier this
month, we can do without another upset.

Peter Fray

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