Olympic gold medal winning rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan has questioned why referees are allowing “crocodile rolls” to happen despite already being illegal.
England flanker Jack Willis suffered a serious knee injury during the Six Nations encounter with Italy, when Sebastian Negri landed awkwardly on his leg after an attempted clean out.
While Negri’s attempted clean out was both dangerous and not allowed under the current laws, Ryan told Brian Moore’s Full Contact Rugby podcast that the “crocodile roll” is a common occurrence.
“I’ve been banging on for this since 2012. I saw a couple of Fijians when I was England coach getting ACLs [anterior cruciate ligament injuries] in Sevens and Jean de Villiers got that terrible ACL in Cardiff.
“The very first start point is, it is breaking the law, so why is it being allowed? Under law, this is now being allowed, why has that suddenly happened? Every time you get new laws, you need a union to be nominated, you trial it, you have all sorts of things.
“Suddenly, we’ve taken away two laws, which is you’re not allowed to intentionally collapse a ruck and you’re not allowed to intentionally come off your feet,” Ryan explained.
‘It’s actually under law illegal’
The former England and Fiji sevens coach was puzzled at how Negri escaped punishment for his attempted clean out on Willis and noted that there is very little that can be done to avoid injury in those cases.
“When you do a Judo throw, you do both of those things if it’s around a ruck, so I don’t see how it’s being allowed.
“Sometimes if you’ve got bodies on the floor, then for someone like Jack Willis his ankle and knee have got nowhere to go.
“It doesn’t matter how fit you are or how well conditioned you are, that knee is unfortunately going to suffer some trauma. Occasionally you can get out the way, but it’s become part of the game now.
“The Italian was already illegal because he was on the floor, but he just thought ‘no one’s blinked an eye really and they’re allowing this’. That’s my issue, it’s in the game and it’s actually under law illegal.”
Negri apologized to Willis on social media after the game for injuring the England flanker, although he has not been cited for the offence. – Pundit Arena