The sight of referee Romain Poite chasing after Johnny Sexton shouting “Please Johnny, don’t be scared” is not one many expected to see ahead of Ireland’s fixture with Scotland on Sunday, but the world of rugby changed after Wales’ win over England in round three of the Guinness Six Nations.
The Ireland captain clearly learned a lesson from two weeks ago and was determined his side were not going to be caught out in the same way England were against Wales.
With Ireland leading Scotland 24-17 inside the final ten minutes at Murrayfield on Sunday, referee Romain Poite stopped time on 72 minutes in order to talk to the fly-half about a string of penalties his side had committed.
"Don't be scared, Johnny."
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 14, 2021
Sexton, however, was less than willing to engage in a conversation with the Frenchman following Wales’ try against England in similar circumstances the round before.
In that instance, England captain Owen Farrell was told to talk to his team by referee Pascal Gaüzère, only for the official to allow Dan Biggar to play a cross-field kick to Josh Adams a split second after putting play back on, while most of the England team were still under the posts.
In fear of history repeating itself, Sexton was seen retreating to his line at Murrayfield barking orders at his teammates while Poite effectively chased after him shouting “Johnny, don’t be scared”. The referee then turned to the Scotland team to extinguish any hopes they may have had of pulling a fast one.
Sexton then was allowed to talk to his teammates worry-free. Scotland did indeed score moments later, but that was in the more conventional style against 15 players.
The captain showed his nerve a few minutes later by landing the match-winning penalty to leave his side in second place in the Six Nations table for now.
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