New Zealand v Ireland, New Plymouth, June 12
Kidney calls for fair breakdown contest
June 8, 2010
Declan Kidney wants some consistency applied over the new breakdown laws © PA Photos
Ireland coach Declan Kidney has called on referees to ensure the contest at the breakdown remains under the new global law interpretations as his side prepares to face the New Zealand All Blacks in New Plymouth on Saturday.
The Irish players have had limited exposure to the new rules that have been applied throughout this year's Super 14 and Kidney wants continuity to be applied across the board.
"I think rugby's always a battle in terms of law between trying to have a bit of continuity but also trying to have a fair contest," said Kidney. "If you take the contest out of it you get a game in a different code. I think it's important that we try and keep the contest in the game."
Ireland had a limited taste of the new laws during the Six Nations but then played under the more familiar laws when they reverted to the provincial competitions. Brian O'Driscoll's side find themselves playing catch-up heading into Saturday's Test.
Kidney's pleas for a contest echo those of many southern hemisphere coaches who felt in the early stages of the Super 14 the decisions favoured the attacking side too much and his opposite number Graham Henry has also expressed his concerns in the same area.
"It's going to be a challenge for the northern hemisphere referees because in the European Cup they didn't play to these rules," said Henry. "But in their own competitions they may have. They know what rules we are playing to and hopefully they can handle it."
"We talk about the same thing every time. Basically, the game at the tackle is going to be important, the game at the scrum is going to be important, with everyone square and pushing straight. If we get those two things right we'll have a good game of football."
Kidney also acknowledges his players are on a steep learning curve this week as they look to upset the odds and win their first ever test against the All Blacks.
"You can watch it on television but there's nothing like operating at it first-hand," he added. "It's our job to adapt. We have a good contest for competition in our one. It's slightly different with the new emphasis and we'll have to adapt to that."
Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip also said the new interpretations at the breakdown, which require the tackler to release the player before attacking the ball again, appeared to be applied more strictly in the southern hemisphere.
"It's probably good for us because it might produce more quick ball and with quick ball our backs can be devastating," he said. "We're going to have to be cute and smart around rucks and just listen to the ref and play the ref."
Englishman Wayne Barnes will referee the game on Saturday. It will be the first time he has taken charge of a match involving Graham Henry's men in New Zealand since the infamous 2007 World Cup quarter-final against France.