Calcutta Cup: Gregor Townsend delivers disappointing update on Darcy Graham’s injury

Head coach denies that Scottish Rugby asked World Rugby to concede that match officials had made a result altering mistake in Scotland versus France game

Darcy Graham suffered a groin injury whilst training with Edinburgh last week. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Darcy Graham suffered a groin injury whilst training with Edinburgh last week. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GREGOR TOWNSEND does not expect to see Darcy Graham back in action during this Six Nations campaign after the livewire winger suffered a fresh injury setback last week whilst training with Edinburgh.

“Last week, chatting with Sean Everitt [Edinburgh’s head coach] and Darcy, we thought he would play 60 minutes with Edinburgh against Zebre – that was the agreement – but then Darcy decided he was just going to focus on training [and not play at the weekend] so that he was ready to train with Scotland this week in the knowledge that he might not be selected [to play against England this coming Saturday] because he had been out for a bit longer,” explained the Scotland head coach.

“He trained Monday – he was flying – and on Wednesday he was flying again, but then his groin on the other side got injured.


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“So, he is still speaking to the specialist, but I don’t believe he’ll be back for the end of the championship. Hopefully he won’t be out for long with Edinburgh but it’s a blow. He did everything to get back available for this game through his quad injury, but it is a new injury which means it’s unlikely he will play for us [during the Six Nations].

“It’s one of those things. He’s had a scan and the scan gave a picture, but the specialist will determine whether it needs surgery or not, but it has been a frustrating time for Darcy since the World Cup.

“He has [had rotten luck with injury during the last year]. And you think of the form he was in going into the last Six Nations when he was one of the best wingers in the world, so to miss that Six Nations, come back for the World Cup, and the injury from the World Cup has kept him out a lot of Edinburgh games.

“[But] as we say to every player, there’s a lot of rugby left. While the Six Nations is a huge tournament, there is a lot of games for Edinburgh left to play and there’s the summer tour. So, let’s hope he gets involved in both of those.”

 

 

The Scotland coach also stated that neither he nor Scottish Rugby contacted World Rugby to specifically request an admission that the match officials made a result-altering mistake when not awarding Sam Skinner a try in the final minute of the national team’s heart-wrenching loss to France two weekends ago, as was initially reported by the BBC on the Tuesday after the match.

“We put in our normal feedback that goes through the normal process, and the last decision was part of that feedback process,” he said.

Asked if an admission that the match officials had made a result-altering error was requested, Townsend stated: “No.”

“There is nothing that can be done. The game won’t be replayed and it shouldn’t be replayed. We’re clearly disappointed, nothing’s changed our view on seeing the footage there and rewatching it a few times after. We believe it should have been a try and we believed that’s the way the decision was going to go during the conversation between the referee and the TMO. It didn’t happen and we’ve got to move on.”

He then stressed that the bigger concern he raised during the feedback process was around the ‘Dupont’s Law’ kicking strategy France were able to adopt during the second half to stem Scotland’s momentum.

“Speaking on behalf of Scottish Rugby, I believe this is not something that should stay in our game,” he explained. “We talk about space being one of the fundamentals of the game. This is a deliberate reduction of space.

“I didn’t know Super Rugby were going to be introducing this new law [so that defenders will remain offside until they have been put onside by a teammate who has come from behind the kicker or the kicker themselves] and maybe they timed the announcement to be two days after the Scotland-France game but the signs were there when Gloucester played Bath [last month], and when we played France in the past.

“Gloucester-Bath was a two-minute period with 12 kicks and there was one section in our game [versus France] that turned out similar.

“I really hope the trial law in Super Rugby works. What they’ve said is that you can only be onside if someone puts you onside. There are other ways you could change that law, which is if you’re in front you have to go back 10 metres wherever you are. Let’s hope it does create more space for attacking teams.

“There is a big ‘Shape of the Game’ conference next week in London to talk about our game in the future and I’m sure this will be one of the laws they discuss and potentially changing or trialing it somewhere.”

“There was a tweak before the World Cup so that if you’re in front of the ball you can’t move sideways anymore because what teams were doing – one in particular – was deliberately putting someone in front of the ball and other people were going sideways so cutting down the space for counterattacks.

“So, they took that away, but you’re still not put onside, so I didn’t think that was a big enough tweak.

“You could call it innovation, or making the most of the laws. It’s never sat well with me. I don’t believe England will use it this week but who knows. They don’t tend to kick it as long as France and we don’t want another episode like that.”

 

 

“That [the France match] was one of the hardest games in terms of running volume we’ve had,” he added. “So when you think a game with a lot of kicks is not a great advert, there is still a huge amount of work that goes in with the long kicking. We were putting players onside, we didn’t go the way of the Gloucester-Bath game where our two 10s, Adam [Hastings] and Finn [Russell], were involved and they just kicked to each other and nobody put anybody onside.

“You could call it [Dupont’s law] innovation, or making the most of the laws. It’s never sat well with me. I don’t believe England will use it this week but who knows. They don’t tend to kick it as long as France and we don’t want another episode like that. [But] we’ve still got three games of the championship left and it could still be a feature of the games. I hope it’s not.”

Asked if Scotland have to accept some culpability for the France match descending into game of kick-tennis, Townsend said: “We could run the ball from our 22 but there was nothing wrong with the decisions that Finn, Ben [White] and the back three were making in that battle.

“Having said that, we’ve addressed that if we get in the same situation that’s not us. We can’t just settle into that even if we’re six points ahead on the scoreboard. We’re a team that disrupts defences and moves the ball. And while at times that might be risky, that’s the game we play. We don’t want teams to settle against us.”


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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

2 Comments

  1. Gutted for him. Two years in a row and it must be hard mentally.

    Hope he gets back soon as he brings so much down that channel.

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