Scots play down Courtney history
PA Sport
February 21, 2007

The Scotland coaching team yesterday tried to play down the problems that their team have had in the past with Donal Courtney, the Irishman who will referee Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy.

Three weeks ago Courtney was the television match official (TMO) when Scotland played England.

And he was heavily criticised by head coach Frank Hadden at the post-match press conference for allowing Jonny Wilkinson's try - despite video footage, which had appeared on the big screen in the stadium, clearly showing that a foot had been in touch.

"It's just absolutely staggering that someone could make that mistake. I believe Mr Courtney is refereeing us against Italy and I suspect he might owe us one," said Hadden after the match.

Yesterday Hadden tried to defuse the situation by explaining why he does not plan to have a word with the Courtney before kick-off on Saturday.

"My experience of speaking to referees before games has not been all that fruitful," said the Scotland coach.

"I think it is more productive if we just we do our homework on the referee, explain to the players what we think is going to happen, and just get on with it. That's what we'll be doing this weekend.

"Referees do their homework on the teams they are handling in the same way as teams do their homework on the opposition and the referee, so I'm pretty confident that he will have noticed the fact that our discipline has been excellent for quite some time now - and that we've had the better of the penalty count in every game this season."

That incident in the England match was not the only time the Scottish camp has been infuriated by Courtney's handling of a situation.

When Scotland played Australia last November, Courtney was referee. In that match Euan Murray, the Scottish tight-head prop, was repeatedly penalised for illegal binding in the scrum.

George Graham, the Scottish forwards coach, made it clear afterwards that he believed that the problem had arisen because Courtney was not forcing the Australian front row to engage correctly - which meant it was impossible for Murray to bind properly.

However, Graham is hoping that the improvements the Scottish scrum seems to have made in recent matches means that there will be no similar sorts of problems this time around.

"Most referees have their interpretation of how the scrummaging laws should be applied, and handle it as they see fit," said Graham.

"In years gone by the referees have maybe given the benefit of the doubt to teams which they think have a stronger scrummage, but I don't think that will be the case on Saturday given the way we have been scrummaging recently.

"I've spoken to Donal Courtney a few times, as I have spoken to other referees, and I think sometimes when you highlight a point which you feel they should be looking at they do one of two things - they either act on that or they completely ignore it.

"And the experience we've had, not just with Donal but with other referees also, is that they are their own men and they'll referee the game as they see fit.

"So I don't think he is different from any other referee."

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Azerbaijan GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open