Toby Booth wants refs to be strict on new interpretation of lawsBy Alan Manicom
September 03, 2010
Toby Booth is hoping that positive changes in the interpretation of the laws should lend some sparkle to the stodgy rugby that has clogged the Premiership.
A worldwide directive from the IRB has asked for defensive, rather than attacking, teams to be more closely refereed at the breakdown.
The tackler has to allow a tackled player to release the ball at a ruck, so theoretically teams should be able to retain possession for longer and get more phases going.
But London Irish’s coach concedes that a lot will depend on the official in charge. In Exiles’ pre-season games against Newport Gwent Dragons and Edinburgh, the refereeing was largely the same as last season.
Booth said: “We haven’t had a Premiership referee yet, just two Celtic League referees, and it didn’t really make a difference.
“In both games Edinburgh and the Dragons came to play, so it depends on the attitude of the sides rather than the refereeing interpretations so far.
“Premiership referees are different as they are a lot more particular about certain things and as a result we should hopefully see good clean ball for people to attack with.
“We still want a contest. But being hot on people who don’t support their body weight and getting the tackler actively rolling away rather than just laying there and putting his hands up are two big things they have spoken about. So I hope they are strict on that.
“And if people are offside at line-outs they deserve to get penalised. Everyone knows it, but there is one thing saying it and another thing doing it.”
Andrew Small will be in charge of Irish’s Aviva Premiership opener against Saracens at Twickenham tomorrow.
And Booth said: “He is a very good referee and will have been given his information of how he needs to interpret games.
“We will have a conversation with him at some point and try to get an insight into what he wants us to do to stay within the realms of the law.”
Booth is well aware that Saracens will provide a tough test.
Exiles’ boss added: “They have a lot of good players. They have recruited well. I’m sure they will be very confident.”
And he is looking forward to trying to outwit Sarries coach Brendan Venter, one of his predecessors at London Irish
Venter changed Saracens from a forward-orientated kicking side to an open, fast running team midway through the season.
And Booth said: “The fact they’ve changed the way they play doesn’t surprise me. They play different ways on different occasions and you can’t underestimate them.
“When Brendan was here he used to talk about off-the-shelf coaching. So he has a game plan that is suitable for taking on whatever opposition his side is facing.”