Following Tom Curry’s ankle injury against South Africa, Bath flanker Sam Underhill will be one of those hoping to stake a claim to England’s number seven shirt against New Zealand this weekend.


Having played 27 minutes for his club in last week’s Premiership Cup loss to Exeter, Underhill is back in the England camp having watched the second half of the Springbok clash in the Chiefs clubhouse, as he told RugbyPass.

Underhill said, “It was good watching it down there, they went mad when Moonie came on. It was a good performance, it was pretty tough stuff, pretty gritty work. It was a testament to the lads’ workrate and effort. It was great to see them get the result.”

Asked whether he had any concerns at the final whistle when referee Angus Gardner consulted the TMO over Farrell’s tackle, Underhill replied, “I thought it was fine – I would do! I would have been surprised if it was called back for anything. I think common sense prevailed in the end. I thought it was a pretty good tackle.”

He continued, “I think the tackle height rules have been laid out pretty clearly that anything neck and up is going to be sanctioned, a penalty at least. Then I think it’s quite clear with the wrap stuff. I think the difficulty is, from an observational point of view, from watching it on the sidelines to actually being a player and knowing what it feels like to tackle someone. You don’t tackle someone with your arms, you tackle someone with your shoulder – every tackle, people tackle with their shoulders.”

Sam Underhill clashes heads with Harlequins’ Mark Lambert during Gallagher Premiership match at Twickenham Stoop on September 15, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Underhill explains, “I think sometimes the way your arms can get caught can make it look more like a shoulder charge. I think potentially some people get penalised unfairly because a big contact means it looks worse because you bounce off each other and you can’t wrap them up. So I think that was probably the reason at the weekend because the tackle was so big they ended up a metre apart and there was no way he could get his arms around him. I think that’s the difficult thing.”


While Eddie Jones will consider whether to move Newcastle’s Mark Wilson to the openside or to give Underhill his fourth start for England, the Bath man seems confident that the current law interpretations are clear around the tackle area.

Underhill told RugbyPass, “I think from players there’s a fairly good understanding of what is and isn’t alright. I suppose it’s just down to the refs to be consistent with it. I don’t think there’s an awful lot of disparity between them and if there was, you’d find out fairly quickly.”

Watch: Head coach Rassie Erasmus does tackle practice with Springboks

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