George Ford says England aim to be “whiter than white” when observing the offside line in the hope of escaping the type of penalty that could ruin their World Cup.
While the officiating of dangerous tackles has dominated headlines at Japan 2019, there have also been contentious offside decisions made with Argentina, Ireland and Australia voicing dismay over instances in which they claim it has not been policed correctly.
A report on Tuesday states that World Rugby is looking to introduce Hawk-Eye technology to ensure it is enforced, but the PA news agency understands there are no plans to have it installed in the belief it is unworkable.
Ford insists England’s approach is unambiguous, knowing the impact a penalty can have.
“It’s pretty clear as a player. We see it as being pretty clear anyway. We want to make it clear that we are onside and that’s for the referees to interpret,” the Leicester playmaker said.
“Our aim is to be whiter than white in terms of that because the thing we’ve seen is that one penalty can change the momentum of the game massively.
“A lot of them are coming from offside and it’s something we want to be ultra disciplined in.
“You want the offside line to be refereed well. It’s a rule, it’s crystal clear and you want it to be refereed well.”
When asked about Hawk-Eye, Ford said: “I’m not too sure how it would work or what effect it would have.
“Rather than the offside line, the key for a fly-half is the speed of ball at the ruck. If you get speed of ball at the ruck then they can’t come off the line anyway, they’re on the back foot. That’s the key to attacking the line.”
— dominic rumbles (@dominicrumbles) September 23, 2019
England defence coach John Mitchell reckons there is a benefit to insisting players are onside when rushing up to shut down an an attack.
“It is a critical behaviour that your defence is onside and we are very strong on that in our programme. It’s something we won’t ignore,” Mitchell said.
“The more space you take off the line the faster off the line you can be. All the things you expected the tournament to present are there.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 30, 2019
England’s Pool C campaign continues with Saturday’s crucial showdown with Argentina in Tokyo, where they could guarantee their passage into the quarter-finals.
Head coach Eddie Jones names his team on Thursday and is considering whether to persist with the twin playmaker combination of Ford and Owen Farrell inside the rampaging Manu Tuilagi, who is enjoying a stunning Test revival.
The Ford-Farrell access served England well earlier in Jones’ reign and has been revisited to superb effect since the Six Nations.
“I’ve obviously played with Owen through the age groups and a fair bit at senior level so the understanding is good between us,” Ford said.
“Owen is a bit more ferocious in the way he plays, he really takes it to them in terms of his aggression. I’m a little bit more calm and relaxed, so it’s probably a good combination.”
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