By Peter Rutherford
KOBE (Reuters) – England fullback Elliot Daly says World Rugby’s clampdown on high tackles is a positive move that puts a priority on safety but in terms of how players tackle it really does not change too much.
Elliot’s comments come as England sweat on a possible citing for Piers Francis following the centre’s high hit on American Will Hooley straight from the opening kickoff of their Pool C game in Kobe on Thursday.
While referee Nic Berry opted not to review the tackle at the time, television replays showed Francis’s shoulder appeared to catch the U.S. fullback in the jaw.
Hooley came away unscathed from the incident, though later left the field on a stretcher with concussion following another hit.
“You don’t mean to hit people there if you hit them there,” Daly told reporters on Friday. “(The crackdown) hasn’t changed that much in my eyes. You want to make good tackles, that’s all you really want to do.
“Sometimes you slip up and you’ll get deemed high tackle now.
“You can’t really think about it, you’ve just got to do what you do and try to tackle properly.
“So it’s just something you’ve got to be wary of, any rule that comes in, especially that one at the moment. But it doesn’t change too much day to day.”
Coach Eddie Jones had declined to discuss the Francis incident after Thursday’s game but said England, who won the match 45-7, would accept whatever decision came their way.
“We never discuss that area, we leave it to the judiciary or the citing commission,” he said. “And then we’ll take whatever is handed out.”
The game also saw the first red card handed out at the 2019 World Cup with U.S. flanker John Quill sent off for a shocking shoulder charge to the head of replacement centre Owen Farrell, who was a sitting duck after knocking on.
Former England coach Clive Woodward slammed Quill’s hit and also took aim at Samoans Ray Ley Lo and Motu Matu’u, who were cited for controversial tackles against Russia.
“The ugly assault on Owen Farrell by John Quill late in the second half is why we have red cards and the deliberate, targeted high shots by the Samoans Ray Ley Lo and Motu Matu’u against Russia are why we dismiss the disgraced players from the field of play and ban them,” he wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.
“They are the deliberate, callous, illegal challenges that the game must eradicate and must always be punished with an automatic red and a ban so they see the error of their ways.”
Rey had an initial six-game ban reduced to three for his good record and conduct at the hearing while Matu’u has yet to hear the result of his disciplinary review.
England’s Farrell, who finished the game against the Americans despite the Quill hit, came away with a deep gash in his nose from an earlier tackle.
And while coach Eddie Jones joked that part of Farrell’s nose had been found on the field, attack coach Scott Wisemantel downplayed the injury to the England skipper.
“He’s fine, he still has his looks,” he said.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)