Gregor Townsend: Clarify ‘ball in the air’ laws

Gregor Townsend believes the laws should be made clearer. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Gregor Townsend believes the laws should be made clearer. Picture: Donald MacLeod

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GREGOR Townsend has called for a clear statement on the rules relating to the high-ball to be made by World Rugby following the outcome of Scotland’s appeal against the two-week ban handed to Finn Russell following his dangerous tackle on Wales’ Dan Biggar at BT Murrayfield last Sunday.

Following the upgrade of Russell’s yellow card to red by a Six Nations disciplinary panel on Wednesday, the Glasgow head coach had his tweet on the subject retweeted on over 20,000 occasions then relayed on Sky Sports News and subsequently found his thoughts on the subject at a premium in the Glasgow pre-match conference for tonight’s visit of the Ospreys in the Guinness Pro12.

Admitting the subject was now the game’s “hot topic”, Townsend was, as usual, articulate in his response: “I think it is a watershed moment in the law. As a coach we need to make sure that we are coaching according to the law. So it will be interesting to see what happens with the appeal.”

The Glasgow head coach continued: “But I think there will have to be a clear statement on what the law is and what you are allowed to do when kicks are in the air. We need to find out after the appeal and we have to wait but it’s obviously a hot topic. Right now we are in this grey area of who is the receiver and what rights does the person have when the ball is in the air and they are just looking at it, and it wasn’t sufficient last week. But if there is intent they should be dealt with severely.

“So it’s an important time for rugby to make sure we all understand the laws when the ball is in the air. Basically it just needs a clear distinction on what you can and can’t do.”

Meanwhile, South African tight-head Rossouw de Klerk, who is one of four personnel changes in a Warriors XV that includes nine internationals and two positional switches from the side that defeated Zebre six days ago, has made it clear tonight’s top-of-the-table encounter will be won up front.

He said: “I expect a very physical game as their forwards are big and dominant and if they are going forward their backs are very dangerous. So we have to give their pack a real battle.

“My position is all about power and I love the set-piece and these are the games you want to play in. We just have to make sure we win, as now we are top we want to stay there.”

Rookie Fraser Lyle has been given a substantial vote of confidence as he retains his place at inside centre after his try scoring debut in Parma while Ali Price starts his first game at Scotstoun at scrum-half.

Jonathan Spratt comes back into the centres to partner Josh Matavesi for the Ospreys, with Dafydd Howells replacing Richard Fussell on the wing. Ryan Bevington, Scott Baldwin and Aaron Jarvis link up in a brand new front row from the one that started at Myreside last week, while skipper Tyler Ardron moves from No 8 to lock. Wales flanker Justin Tipuric, moves straight into the back row.

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