On Friday English head coach Eddie Jones took a swipe at Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton when speaking about his own number ten Owen Farrell suggesting the Leinster man gets preferential treatment from referees.
Against South Africa last week, Farrell tackled Andre Esterhuizen high and despite the challenge appearing to be illegal, the referee did not punish the English out-half and Jones’ side went on to hold on to their narrow 12-11 lead.
Jones was asked about Farrell’s fitness after he picked up a hip injury following a collision with Esterhuizen, whom he had already become well acquainted with in the game.
The English head coach felt that Farrell was receiving insufficient protection from referees while challenges on his Irish counterpart Sexton are often widely condemned.
“If he was Sexton then we’d be able to complain about him, but because he’s Owen Farrell he’s allowed to be hit late. He’s tough so he gets up and he plays,” Jones told the Daily Mail.
Former Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll, however, does not agree with Jones’ comments claiming that he only made them to deflect attention away from England’s clash with New Zealand.
“That’s really the question,” began O’Driscoll, who was speaking at a media event organised by Guinness.
“It’s throwing the banger over that direction to take attention away from what is the mainstay point. Here we are talking about it rather than the actual point of who’s going to win the match.
“It’s a side plot to the bigger theme of what is more important which is the game on Saturday.“
O’Driscoll weighed in on Farrell’s challenge outlining it took him a bit of time to see that the tackle was illegal, also expanding on Jones’ perception that Sexton is overly protected by referees.
“Do I think he (Sexton) is more protected? Farrell throws it around a lot more than Johnny Sexton so maybe from that perspective there is less sympathy.
“When he cops a late one because he is prone to the odd loose one himself but at the end of the game I back the referee’s call immediately after the game and I’ve kind of revised the thought that there is an illegality to it (Farrell’s tackle), I actually didn’t fully understand as a pundit and a professional.
“I actually thought that if there is an attempted wrap with your non-tackling shoulder that that sufficed but it has to be a wrap with your tackling shoulder.
“You can’t hold one arm down, now that action in itself is not easy so I stand corrected there on the basis that it obviously is a penalty and South Africa get a shot at goal.
“I do feel that Sexton, albeit he’s very brave and he tackles hard he doesn’t tackle with the aggression or the intent of throwing shots in and, as a result, you get a reputation that maybe you don’t need looking after as much as others.”
Ahead of the Guinness Series kicking off this weekend, former Irish international rugby player Brian O’Driscoll was on hand to preview Ireland’s game against Argentina as a part of Guinness’ #AnswerIrelandsCall campaign. #AnswerIrelandsCall celebrates the camaraderie between rugby fans, by giving them a voice and rallying them to get behind the Irish Rugby team. Throughout the series fans are encouraged to get involved as Guinness is giving away a number of pairs of tickets to each fixture including the sold out Ireland v New Zealand game at the Aviva Stadium. Fans should visit the Guinness Facebook page and leave their message of support using the #AnswerIrelandsCall to be in with a chance to win tickets to the Guinness Series (terms and conditions apply) *.
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