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Crowley takes to Twitter to defend rookie Test referee Amashukeli

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Italy boss Kieran Crowley has taken to Twitter to defend Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli, who found himself at the centre of a bizarre Guinness Six Nations controversy in Dublin on Sunday. The 27-year-old official was a touch judge for the round one France versus Italy match, but the Azzurri’s round three game away to Ireland was his first outing as a Six Nations referee. 

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With Italy losing starting hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi to injury in the opening minutes, they then lost his replacement Hame Faiva to a red card and when it came to the first scrum after the sub’s sending-off, Crowley’s side were forced to go to uncontested scrums which resulted in the sacrifice of No8 Toa Halafihi.

This left Italy to play nearly an hour of the match with just 13 players and it heavily influenced their 57-6 loss. Losing a player due to uncontested scrums understandably ignited a heated debate online that Crowley has now joined in with the first tweet posted on his account since November.

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“Seen plenty of comments,” wrote Crowley, the ex-All Blacks full-back who is three games into his first Six Nations campaign as the Italy head coach following a successful club stint in charge at Benetton.  

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

Crowley’s post insisting the referee shouldn’t be blamed for the uncontested scrums situation drew many reactions, including a response from John Kirwan, his ex-All Blacks teammate who was coach of Italy during the mid-2000s.   

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“Love your work and agree Colty but the TMO was looking only at Italy which I lived myself, Viva Italia andiamo avanti sempre senza paura,” tweeted Kirwan, his closing words in Italian being translated as: “Viva Italia we always go forward without fear.”

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