Ireland defeated Italy 57– 6 in their Six Nations clash today at the Aviva Stadium. However, the game was essentially ruined early on in the first half when Italy’s replacement hooker Hame Faiva received a red card.
With Italy’s starting hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi having also gone off injured earlier in the game, this left the Italians without a hooker and no choice but to call for uncontested scrums. In the laws of the game, because it was Italy's 'fault' for the uncontested scrums, they had to take an extra back off as well, leaving them two men down.
What was probably going to be relatively straightforward victory for Ireland against 15 Italians, was now reduced to nothing more than a training exercise.
After the game, Virgin Media pundits Matt Williams, Rob Kearney, and Shane Horgan aired their grievances over the flawed rule. Williams felt this incident showed that many of the rules in rugby are no longer fit for purpose.
"It is a damning statement on our game what occured out there today."
Rob Kearney, Matt Williams & Shane Horgan extremely critical of World Rugby and the law which saw Italy play much of today's game with 13 men. #IREvITA #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/MN7kpN5mQN
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) February 27, 2022
We’ve got to be the only team sport on the planet that constantly shoots ourselves in the foot. Now if that’s the first game of rugby you are watching you are not going to watch a second.
Many of our laws are no longer fit for purpose. It is nothing to blame for the players on the field or the officials on the field, they are simply implementing the law.
The loser today was not Ireland or Italy, the game of rugby lost today on the international stage.
Rob Kearney was in full agreement with his colleague.
"It sits really badly with you. We’re trying to improve this game as a spectacle. Rugby is trying to grow itself to appeal to bigger masses. And it’s a complicated game at the best of times, and then you’ve got an incident like this that completely throws everything out the window.
"They’re trying to protect the player, which they’re doing, but they’re not protecting the game.
Shane Horgan echoed the thoughts of his fellow pundits, although he did point out that the initial thinking behind the law was understandable.
I would say the intention behind the rule is a good one. It’s not to give the opposition an advantage, and not allow them to exploit going down or losing a front row and having uncontested scrums. That’s good. It prevents cynicism.
It’s a matter of balancing that against what we saw today and destroying a match.
The game's lawmakers will surely have to consider a change here.