Danny Care Critical Of Former Coach Conor O’Shea’s ‘No-Ruck’ Tactics Against England

England scrum-half Danny Care, who was on the receiving end of Italy’s ‘no-ruck’ tactics last weekend, has spoken out against his former coach Conor O’Shea and plans to ‘pick his brains’ over the Azzurri’s novel approach to combating the powerful England pack.

The 30-year-old Harlequins scrum-half served under O’Shea while the Irishman was director of rugby at the Premiership club, before taking over as the Italy head coach.

Despite their close association, Care is less than impressed with his former boss and, as reported by the Independent, has accused him of going from ‘being the most attacking man in rugby to the most negative’.

O’Shea, along with defence coach Brendan Venter, caused consternation among the England team, coach Eddie Jones, and the 80,000 fans in attendance at Twickenham, when they ordered their Italian pack not to contest for the ball following a tackle.

In doing, no ruck was formed and it allowed the Azzurri to make a nuisance of themselves in the channels normally clear for scrum-halves to distribute the balls out from the base of the breakdown.

It was a ploy that was fully within the rules of the game but it caused England untold problems as Care and co. grappled with the new dynamic.

Though England eventually adjusted to the tactic and ran out bonus point winners, England boss Jones, along with former coach Sir Clive Woodward, has called on World Rugby to change the rules around tackling and to introduce the same offside line employed in a ruck.

With Care having suffered most on Sunday, he now plans to catch up with O’Shea for a quiet chat,

“I’m going to pick his brains over a beer. He’s gone from being the most attacking man in rugby to the most negative in one game.

“They felt they had to do it to try to get a result but they didn’t.”

You might well argue that while Italy’s approach was certainly unexpected, it was also an inspired decision by O’Shea and Venter.

Despite Care saying they didn’t need to approach the game in that manner in order to get a result, the fact is that following a mauling from Ireland in Rome in round two, they did need to change and for the better part of an hour they competed with the second ranked team in the world.

On that basis, O’Shea could certainly be vindicated for his decision.

Care admitted that the tactic was not something O’Shea considered while at Harlequins and so it took him by surprise when the Irishman employed it to such a degree on Sunday.

“No, no. We never tried to do that.

“Why the law is like that I don’t know, but it’s within the laws to do it. We’ve experienced it against us a couple of times, but only once or twice in certain games.

“To have it in every breakdown is something new. It’s another thing this team has experienced. We got through it and managed to find a way, it probably took us a bit longer to adapt than we wanted to but we did and we got five points. We’d have taken that at the start of the game.”

Ultimately, the tactic worked on Sunday but players and coaches will now be ready for any repeats from the Azzurri. While the England camp might feel a little sheepish over their initial inability to deal with their opponents, they rumble on towards another grand slam title, with no damage done.

At the very least, what everyone has learned is that Italy are now guided by some very smart and shrewd coaches and for the minnows of the Six Nations, that can only be a good thing.

Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena

On this weeks Oval Office podcast we chat with Mako Vunipola, Paddy Butler, Rob Henderson and David Toms


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. View all posts by The PA Team