World Cup referee’s made aware of ‘cheating’ tactic used by Steve Borthwick’s England - Ruck

World Cup referee’s made aware of ‘cheating’ tactic used by Steve Borthwick’s England

International referee’s have been made aware of a controversial tactic being used by England ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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Last month, Nigel Owens highlighted the illegal ‘shielding’ tactic used by England against Wales in their latest Six Nations clash..

Owens said: “Supporters have been asking on social media is we’re England blocking on the kick and cheers it’s a very difficult year of the game to referee because what the players can’t do is when they’re running back is deliberately change their run to block the chasers. 

“They can’t look around and see a players coming and change direction then to go in front of him and block them, 

“What they can’t do as well is they can’t go back there and sort of form a shield around the ball carrier preventing the opposition getting at him to compete for the ball.


“All you need to decide is were they putting players in front of the catcher to block the opposition and to protect the attacker if they do that it’s a penalty, if they don’t let’s play on.

“England are operating right on the borderline. It’s tough to referee.”

It’s now been reported that this tactic, along with the always controversial caterpillar ruck tactic, will be monitored closely by officials during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.



Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”