Ireland looked to bend the rules at the breakdown against Italy last Saturday, and take advantage of the murkiness of that area of game.
A particular tactic they employed was to use the first Irish player arriving to the ruck to chop down the first Italian player who was arriving to the ruck.
While this meant that the ruck had not formed, and thus the Irish player did not have to go 'through the gate', many were arguing that this meant the Irish players were taking out Italian players off the ball.
Others were arguing that it is a grey area, and that the Italian players being tackled were involved over the ball when they were being taken out.
The examples below see Keith Earls and Caelan Doris making use of the the clever play.
Ireland Took Part In The 'Dark Arts' Against Italy On Friday
Andy Farrell has presumably briefed refs on this and got the okay - which is staggering because if this is not a ruck the surely this is the dictionary definition of obstruction? https://t.co/OFNYRCJHXJ
— Josh Gardner (@joshgardner) August 7, 2023
Definitely not legal, but probably very low down the referee's list of things to watch out for (dangerous play and cynical attempts to slow the ball much higher).
Doubt it's a technique practiced in training either.
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) August 7, 2023
After the game, Andy Farrell spoke to the press and touched on the injuries sustained and the three debuts that were handed out.
"They seem not too bad,” he said of the injuries.
"Jimmy’s shoulder has shut down a little bit, that’s happened him before. Jack has lost power in his foot, Craig had a tight back which led to tightness in his hamstring.
"I’m delighted to get the win, it matters to us when we play at the Aviva.
“Probably more so because of the three lads (Ciaran Frawley, Tom Stewart and Calvin Nash) who were making their debuts, they can look back on their debut as a nice memory.
“We all know really that it was a bit clunky to say the least at times; some really good stuff in terms of possession and convert in spades and we weren’t able to convert that. That’s the story.”