Rugby: McCaw a 'serial law infringer'

By Peter Bills

Richie McCaw. Photo / Getty Images
Richie McCaw. Photo / Getty Images

As the Crusaders prepare for Saturday's Super 15 final, former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer has labelled some of their key players "serial infringers" of the laws of the game.

The World Cup-winning coach singled out Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Owen Franks and Hurricane Conrad Smith for special mention.

Dwyer praised the Crusaders, per se, for making it to Saturday's Super 15 final against the Reds in Brisbane.

"Their technique is beyond reproach which is what makes them the great side they are."

But he slammed certain players, particularly All Black captain McCaw.

"You only have to watch what Richie does in a match. He would be guilty six times of obstruction in every game. He knocks players away from the ruck so his players can get in first to the ball. They are very good at it.

"For a variety of offences, players like Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Wayne Crockett and Conrad Smith [of the Hurricanes] are all serial infringers.

The amount of infringements New Zealand props get away with is incredible."

Dwyer also took a stab at New Zealand referees.

"Believe me, playing in New Zealand with New Zealand referees is the world's most difficult task."

He took New Zealand international referee Bryce Lawrence to task for his handling of the Crusaders-Sharks playoff match in Nelson a fortnight ago.

"In that Crusaders v Sharks game, Brad Thorn arrived at the tackle situation with about six players already involved there. He completely by-passed that and took out a defender one and a half metres behind the tackle area. I just ask, how do New Zealanders get away with these things?

"The answer is, they do so because all New Zealand referees are bred on a diet of mayhem at the tackle contest and they commit mayhem in numbers which confuses referees. The trouble is, none of the other countries grow up on that diet because they are not allowed to play that way.

"It's not part of their DNA; they don't think they can get away with it so they don't employ those tactics. But New Zealand refs let players do that, certainly New Zealand players.

"I think we have to keep criticising the New Zealanders and making people aware of what are illegal tactics. The law book clearly states you are not allowed to do what they do constantly."

Nevertheless, Dwyer offered a ringing endorsement of the rugby played and the players' skills this season.

"The standard of the rugby across all three countries has been fantastic, the best yet," said the Australian, now 70. "The standout is the wear and tear on the players. But the bottom team has been able to challenge the top team and although not necessarily beat them, give them a real contest.

"There has been a lot of enterprise. That by itself might not be all that fantastic; you need a few other things, like ability for one. But you also need accurate technique and we have seen that in many teams.

"Even a new team like the Melbourne Rebels, who might have been expected to struggle, have had their moments.

"Injuries have been the biggest problem for Super 15 teams. The Waratahs had 11 of their 22 squad players missing through injury for their playoff match against the Crusaders. Eight or nine of them were Wallabies and it's hard to make up for that sort of loss."

- NZ Herald

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