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The French connection

From Bod’s hat-trick to Sexton’s drop-goal, no opponent has defined this Irish rugby century quite like France

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The 'sitting duck' Ireland reaction to RFU waist high tackling

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Inpho via Six Nations)

Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton has strongly disagreed with the RFU decision to limit the community game in England to waist-high tackles only from next season, an initiative also criticised by his national team coach Andy Farrell.

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Veteran player Sexton has regularly encountered head knocks throughout his lengthy career and although the new initiative in England doesn’t apply at professional level, he has taken a dim view of the impending change and would hate for it to be introduced into the grassroots game in Ireland by the IRFU.

Asked at the Guinness Six Nations launch in London on Monday what he thought of the English community game measure and if he would be in favour of its introduction in Ireland, Sexton didn’t hold back in explaining his dissatisfaction with the change.

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“Look, I don’t agree with it,” he stressed. “There’s no point sitting on the fence really, is there? I just think you have got tall people who play the game and it should be their decision how they tackle.

“Of course, we need to get the head shots out of the game but I think the tackles that we really need to take out of the game are the reckless, out of control, sprinting out of the line, tucking arms, all these type of ones you know, hitting someone there I don’t think should be option.

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“And it is not like you can’t get concussed chopping someone’s knees. You know, I see a hell of a lot of concussions, people getting their head on the wrong side, a knee to the temple, or a hip even to the side of the head. So I strongly disagree.”

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Ireland boss Farrell, who was at a grassroots game at Coolmine in Dublin on Sunday to watch his youngest son Gabriel play, added: “It is super important that what has come with that is the correct coaching in the correct way, correct the technique because of the reasons that Johnny has just said.

“If you are just saying to a kid that you need to tackle lower, then you even become more vulnerable in my opinion you know, if you are just sitting there with just your arms in front trying to wrap and get the head down etc, you are a sitting duck waiting to happen.

“So the coaching and the technique of how it is applied to tackling below the waist is absolutely crucial otherwise we are going to have a serious problem.”

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