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'I have been banging on for this since 2012': Ben Ryan's crocodile roll frustrations reach boiling point after Willis injury

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Olympic gold medal-winning coach Ben Ryan has claimed that “we have taken away two laws” by permitting crocodile rolls in rugby. The former 7s coach of Fiji and England and Fiji has been advocating the outlawing of crocodile rolls for a long time before Jack Willis suffered a devastating knee injury for England against Italy last weekend.


Willis was tackled at the breakdown in Twickenham by Sebastian Negri and Ryan’s main problem is that the tackle is already illegal in the game theoretically.

“I have been banging on for this since 2012,” Ryan said, reflecting on the incident that will keep England rookie Willis out of the game for a considerable time. “I saw a couple of Fijians when I was England coach getting ACLs in sevens and Jean de Villiers got that terrible ACL in Cardiff. The very first start point is, it is breaking the law so why is it being allowed?

“Under law, this is now being allowed, why has that suddenly happened? Every time you get new laws, you need a union to be nominated, you trial it, you have all sorts of things.

“Suddenly, we have taken away two laws, which is you are not allowed to intentionally collapse a ruck and you are not allowed to intentionally come off your feet. When you do a judo throw, you do both of those things if it’s around a ruck, so I don’t see how it is being allowed.

“Sometimes if you have got bodies on the floor, then for someone like Jack Willis, his ankle and knee have got nowhere to go. It doesn’t matter how fit you are or how well conditioned you are, that knee is unfortunately going to suffer some trauma.


“Occasionally you can get out the way, but it’s become part of the game now. The Italian was already illegal because he was on the floor, but he just thought ‘no one’s blinked an eye really and they’re allowing this’.

“That’s my issue, it’s in the game and it’s actually under law illegal. Whenever I see something on TV and I send out a Tweet, I’ll get a lot of people saying, ‘How do you get rid of the jackler?’ The point is, we don’t know until you actually enforce these laws and see what happens.

“But if you’re going to take a law out without telling anyone, then it has got to at least make the game safer and it’s got to make the game better, and I’m not sure how this does either. It certainly doesn’t make the game safer.

“It’s not just at the top end. It’s not about England versus Italy at the weekend, it’s about Old Wimbledonians against somebody playing in seconds XV and getting rolled and injuries being sustained when they can be avoided. It’s a wider game issue as well.”



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