"Keep an eye" - Wayne Barnes warns referee about England's controversial illegal tactic - Ruck

“Keep an eye” – Wayne Barnes warns referee about England’s controversial illegal tactic

Wayne Barnes has highlighted a potentially illegal tactic used by England against Italy in their Six Nations clash at the weekend.

RUCK’s 2024 Guinness Six Nations content powered by ISUZU.

The popular former referee discussed what his notes would be for refereeing England if he was still an active match official.

Ever since Steve Borthwick assumed control, there has been a noticeable emphasis on England’s efforts to protect players when contesting high balls. While shielding itself may not be explicitly prohibited, there is a perilous proximity at times to potential obstruction, a violation that could result in a penalty.

Speaking about the controversial tactic, Barnes wrote: “Along with the television match official, I would look at examples of how players try to protect their full-back by creating a shield around him prior to him jumping for the ball.

“This is legal, but takes time on the training ground to perfect to ensure you don’t obstruct the chasing defender. Freddie is excellent in the air, but how his team-mates help him out is definitely something to keep an eye on.”

See the example below from against Wales last year.

Barnes also discussed the unique prospect of refereeing England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler.

He said: “Marler is one of my favourite players to have refereed. He made me smile before, during and after a match.

“He once got hold of my number in the lead up to a Quins match that I was refereeing and he sent me a WhatsApp message during the week explaining, in Joe’s unique way, how delighted he was that I would be refereeing. There was a shared smile in the changing room when I started my front-row chat an hour before the game.

Isuzu Scratch-Card Game:

If you don’t win, don’t worry – you get 2 chances to win every day! Have another attempt by simply answering a quick question following your first unsuccessful scratch.

Don’t forget to come back every day to try and win big!

“However, I wouldn’t speak to him during the match as I had learnt from previous occasions refereeing him that getting into a conversation would often distract me.

“I’d therefore tell him that he wasn’t allowed to speak to me and designate an assistant referee he was allowed to speak with. ‘You can’t speak with me tonight, Joe, but you can speak with Dixy’. Paul Dix not only worked with me as an assistant referee throughout my Premiership career, but he could talk the hind legs of a donkey too.”

Read Wayne Barnes full column for The Telegraph here.


Sir Ian McGeechan Asked To Name His All-Time XV, He Said Only One ‘Unbelievable’ Player Is Guaranteed A Spot

Sir Ian McGeechan has unveiled his ultimate XV, omitting Paul O’Connell, David Campese, and Jonny Wilkinson from his lineup.

In his article for The Telegraph, the 74-year-old has chosen six New Zealanders, three Englishmen, two Welsh players, and one each from France, Scotland, and Ireland in his all-time greatest team.


Fullback: JPR Williams (Wales) – “Not a staggeringly original choice, I’ll admit. But to my mind the only one. If I’m going to be picking a dream XV then I want JPR at the back. No question, guarenteed starter.”

Left-wing: Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) – “Illness and injury ultimately slowed him down. But his performances at the 1995 World Cup, just as the game was turning professional, will never be forgotten. The game needed a superstar, and it got one in Lomu. He was brilliant for rugby.”

Right-wing: John Kirwan (New Zealand) – “He had an all round game; he could carry the ball through heavy traffic, he could offload, he was like an extra back-rower at times. Plus, he had natural effortless pace. He ended up scoring 35 tries for the All Blacks and was instrumental as they went through their unbeaten spell of games between 1987 and 1990.”


Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – “His ability to get back on his feet after tackling to compete for the ball was extraordinary, and ensured he always had an impact on the game, whatever type of game it was. He was such a natural talent.”

Inside-centre: Philippe Sella (France) – “Sella and O’Driscoll were powerful men. They could stop a forward in his tracks. I think as a pair they would dominate any midfield and I like the thought of them together.”