Italy coach leaps to referee's defence after Six Nations debacle
By Rugby Onslaught

Italy coach leaps to referee’s defence after Six Nations debacle

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley has leapt to the defence of referee Nika Amashukeli after the red card farrago involving his side and Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

For those that are not aware, the Aviva Stadium bore witness to one of the strangest law quirks going at the weekend. This came after a red card was shown to replacement hooker Hame Faiva which in turn led to uncontested scrums. This meant Italy had to bring on another front row on, Ivan Nemer, as well as taking off an extra two players, No.8 Toa Halafihi and winger Pierre Bruno, meaning they played with 13 men for 60 minutes (and even twelve men at one point).

The reasons for this bizarre law are in World Rugby’s guidelines:

“During the match a team replaced both their props through injury. The replacement TH is permanently suspended (R/C). At the next scrum awarded in the match the following applies:

  1. If the team cannot field a suitable front row uncontested scrums must be ordered. The permanently suspended TH player cannot be replaced.
  2. The permanent suspended TH caused uncontested scrums to be ordered therefore the team lose a player. The team must nominate a player to leave the field.
  3. The remaining substitute (hooker) must be used in the front row of the uncontested scrums. Another player must be nominated to leave the field to allow the hooker to come on to the field to play.
  4. The team plays with 13 players for the remainder of the match.
  5. Both teams must form with eight players in the scrum.”

This was quite a baptism of fire for referee Amashukeli, who was taking charge of his first Six Nations game and was also the first Georgian to referee a match in the competition. He has faced some criticism since then, although it is quite clear he did what was in the law. Crowley pointed that out on Twitter recently, saying he cannot be blamed at all.

However, the Kiwi did put the ball in World Rugby’s court by suggesting changes must be made to the law, and it is likely that the vast majority of the rugby world is on his side.

“Seen plenty of comments; we can not blame the referee at all, he’s followed the rules,” he said. “Are they right? Well that’s for World Rugby to decide. I am very proud of our Italy team, we fought hard, 36-6 with 10mins to go displays that! Onwards to Scotland in two weeks!”