DAVID BARNES in HAMAMATSU
SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has expressed surprise at the squint-feed decision made by referee Jaco Peyper at a scrum deep into injury time of last Saturday’s World Cup pool match in Toyota, which gave Japan possession from which they scrambled a dramatic – and what could be crucial – fourth-try bonus-point against Samoa.
That score significantly bolstered the host nation’s position in the race for one of the two quarter-final qualifying spots available in Pool A, and left Scotland needing nine points from their two remaining group matches against Russia tomorrow [Wednesday] and against Japan on Sunday at the same time as preventing Japan a bonus point in that match, or ten league points whilst limiting Japan to just one losing bonus-point.
It would be a huge boost to the profile of the tournament if Japan were to make the last eight for the first time ever.
Townsend pointed out that while it has become common practice to angle the put-in at the scrum towards your team, penalties for doing so in the modern game have been very rare.
“I think its an incredible call, to be honest,” he said. “I have never seen a crooked feed call, certainly in the World Cup or Six Nations.
“It is certainly something that has not been refereed. There is an agreement there is more latitude for the scrum-half putting the ball into the scrum because you are the team who has won the scrum. To see that in World Cup really surprised me. To see it as we’ve gone into injury time for a game-changing decision was an even bigger surprise.
“If you say it is the right call then you can say 98 to 99 percent of feeds are the right call, but it was a call I’ve not seen for a long time in the game.”
Samoa head coach Steve Jackson, who has been a vociferous critic of the officiating throughout this World Cup, expressed his bemusement immediately after Saturday’s match. “The opposition scrum did exactly the same as us in the next scrum – they get away with it. Sometimes I scratch my head,” he said.
Of more immediate concern to Townsend is tomorrow’s game against Russia, who are still winless in the tournament but have shown impressive physicality and resilience in their three games so far against Japan, Samoa and Ireland.
“We’ve obviously got Japan in the back of our minds, but the front of our minds is all about Russia and going out there to get a bonus-point,” he said. “If we don’t get a bonus point win, our challenge against Japan is even more difficult, if we don’t get a win then we’re out.
“We need a similar performance to how we played against Samoa [last Monday]. Consistency is the key for every team. It is important now that we build on the momentum we created against Samoa.”