Saracens 21-25 Gloucester
Ryan ready for Wales row
PA Sport
November 16, 2008
Gareth Cooper of Gloucester warms up during the Guinness Premiership match between Saracens and Gloucester at Vicarage Road in Watford, England on November 16, 2008.
Cooper was named as a replacement for the Vicarage Road clash but was not used © Getty Images

Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan admitted his side had taken a step into the unknown after defying an International Rugby Board ruling by naming Welsh scrum-half Gareth Cooper on the bench for the win at Saracens.

The IRB ruled Wales did not have to release Cooper for the game as it occurred inside the official international window. The 29-year-old was rested for the 34-13 win over Canada but was due to return to the squad to face New Zealand next week after starting the autumn opener against South Africa.

But after seeing Anthony Allen, Olly Morgan and Lesley Vainikolo score tries to take Gloucester up to fifth, Ryan insisted he was ready for anything the Welsh Rugby Union had to throw at him. "Everybody involved in this situation knew of our decision when we took it at noon today," said Ryan.

"That includes Premier Rugby and every other body who are involved, so everyone knew we were going ahead and naming Gareth on the bench for the game. All parties who are involved have now seen that we have included him on the bench and have seen what has been said, so what happens from here is for other people to decide.

"We've played very well today and I felt like we were back to the Gloucester of old. Olly Morgan has taken his try extremely well and Anthony Allen slotted straight back in. He is a player who knows the Gloucester way and we haven't played that way until today, even when we won, so I'm very happy to be back to that."

Allen, absent from the Gloucester side since injuring his ankle against Leicester on the opening day of the season, crossed to set Ryan's men on their way after 24 minutes. Ryan Lamb and Glen Jackson exchanged kicks early on and although Ben Skirving pegged the visitors back, Morgan gave England manager Martin Johnson something to consider as he broke decisively to score 10 minutes after the break.

Vainikolo extended the advantage and although Eddie Jones' men hit back with a penalty try on 70 minutes to set up a grandstand finish, they could not prevent their first home league defeat of the season.

After seeing his side fail to capitalise on their scrum, Jones appealed to the officials for a more consistent approach to the game. "The scrum is a difficult area of the game to manage," he said. "But today we dominated it without getting the reward we were due.

"I just feel that if people are penalised for persistent fouls in other areas of the game then the same should be true of the scrum. Ultimately it's about consistency and I didn't feel we get that at the moment with one of our strongest areas."

The Welsh Rugby Union issued a statement shortly after noon today reminding Gloucester they would be breaking IRB regulations by including Cooper in their squad.

Following the game, a WRU spokesperson said: "We are seeking to establish all the facts and once that is done we will consider all the material issues and act accordingly."


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