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England star Willis admits losing temper with ref in off-field meeting

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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England back row Jack Willis admits that he lost his temper with a Premiership referee over his frustrations around the ‘croc roll’ technique that saw him suffer a brutal, season-ending injury earlier year.

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The 24-year-old remains on the road to recovery following the horrific injury sustained during this year’s Guinness Six Nations in just his third game for England. Italy’s Sebastian Negri landed on the 6’3, 110kg forward’s leg after executing a controversial croc roll technique, which many want banning from the game.

Willis is one of them and the Wasps flanker ended up venting his frustrations in a behind closed doors meeting with referee Christophe Ridley. Writing in his column for The Times, Willis admits he lost his cool and later felt he needed to apologise to Ridley.

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“It all boiled over when Christophe Ridley, the RFU referee, came in to talk to us about the new laws in place this season. I was interested only in one: the directive that referees must penalise players who target the lower limbs of an opponent in a ruck.

“I was injured while playing for England against Italy when Sebastian Negri clamped me around my torso and rolled me sideways out of a ruck, pulling me over my planted left knee. The result was a ruptured medial collateral ligament, torn posterior cruciate ligament and cartilage damage.

“The new directive bans players from targeting or dropping their weight on to the lower limbs of an opponent but it does not mention a crocodile roll. World Rugby has basically accepted that this technique is still OK, as long as you do it in a certain way.

“I took that out on Christophe, as if it was his fault. He explained you are allowed to actively try to pull a player to the side by the torso but not allowed to hit and then flop on to the leg.

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“Christophe handled it brilliantly and I apologised to him afterwards for getting angry.”

Willis has also sought the advice of England and Wasps great Lawrence Dallaglio, who suffered a similar injury 20 years ago.

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England star Willis admits losing temper with ref in off-field meeting

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