Owen Doyle: Bundee Aki is good but really needs to change technique

‘Matey’ Luke Pearce and ‘Barnesy’ Wayne Barnes were utterly irritating in Paris

“I’m sure I’ll wake up soon, it will be Monday all over again and nothing will have even started.”

The gist of trainer Henry de Bromhead's words, after that most modest Irishman had made Cheltenham never-done-before history, with his unique 'Holy Trinity' treble. Wonderful.

By 7pm on Saturday, I knew how he felt, and what he meant. Did we really destroy England?

Prior to kick-off, I laid two small bets. My forecast was a loss by more than 10 points. My son disagreed, proposed a wager, and I now have to deliver a decent bottle of red. The bill is going straight to Andy Farrell, he'd lulled me into a false sense of security.

The second bet was that Bundee Aki would get a yellow card; wrong again. He really needs to learn, and change his technique. He's good, but he's a risk. Referee Mathieu Raynal had to produce the red card.

The coaching staff, well done to all, will now keep their feet firmly planted on terra firma, and will realise that this performance has perhaps saved one or two necks. But this terrific win needs cementing.

Referees/match officials are not as good as they think they are; they are only as good as other people, in high places, think they are

Farrell will know that, as will Paul O’Connell - he brings so much more than lineout acumen; the coaching ticket benefits enormously from the inclusion of an Irishman of such stature, whose presence and words motivate the team to show pride and passion in that green jersey.

Don't forget too that England were not good - the Vunipola brothers, for example, were noticeable only by their invisibility. They've become lazy and unfit playing for Saracens in the second division in England.

And when Owen Farrell was correctly penalised for rolling twice in the tackle, his reaction was to laugh; a moment which provoked the thought that 'this English goose is well and truly cooked' - the focus is gone. The pressure gauge now moves its dial to Eddie Jones, the needle is rising.

I’ve criticised Raynal before for being over casual, appearing nearly disinterested, I’ve not been wrong. On Saturday he was quietly busy, pro-active, and was very good. He has moved up the rankings on this performance. England can select a few errors, yes. Me too, but there’s not a thing which made one jot of difference.

It is, though, impossible to explain why TMO Romain Poite did not inform Raynal about the actions of Ellis Genge on Johnny Sexton which had to be reviewed.

Magical display

Parisian skies lit up, France and Wales producing a magical display of rugby fireworks in the final game of the day. A big thank you to both teams, not so sure about the officials though.

From start to finish, there were decisions and issues to debate.

The relationship between the referee Luke Pearce and his TMO Wayne Barnes was utterly irritating, all smiles and "matey" this, and "Barnsey" that. It seems they like centre-stage, while the rest of us just want them to get on with the job.

We saw the sort of moment that would have this whole country shouting blue murder if it happened to Ireland. Wales Josh Adams lunged over the line, and then the ball seemed held up under the hand of France's Dylan Cretin.

Pearce then informed us that his on-field decision was a try. How on earth? After some “amusing” and unnecessary banter about how many things needed checking, they eventually got to the nub of it. Barnes ruled that he didn’t have enough evidence to overturn the on-field decision, and the try stood.

But there was no clear view of a grounding, the replay pointed much more to “ball held up.” A definite balls-up, indeed.

The second half was exhilarating and full of incident. The eye gouge by France's Paul Willemse fully deserved the red card it got. Wales had two yellows (the second, to Liam Williams, looked doubtful) of their own which balanced the books somewhat.

When a very controlled Welsh maul drove for the goal line, French prop Mohamed Haouas was rightly carded for collapsing it. But there was no penalty try awarded, and there should have been.

There were then a couple of missed low no arms tackles. And the last vital penalty to France was wrong in my opinion. Most certainly it did not meet the necessary “clear and obvious” criteria, and Pearce will have his plate full at reviewing time.

Referees/match officials are not as good as they think they are; they are only as good as other people, in high places, think they are. Some need to remember that truism, I suspect the message is on its way.

Italian story

Murrayfield told a familiar old Italian story, it’s like watching the same movie over and over, a sort of Groundhog Day.

Apart from missing a litany of tackles, correct yellow cards flowed. Down to 14 for half an hour, and 13 for a while is just buck stupid.

Referee Pascal Gauzere must have been understandably anxious following Wales v England, but it'd be picky to criticise him here. He marshalled very well the lineout 10 metre space, and the same for open play, not that Italy will thank him.

It didn't matter at all, but I'm sure he'll look at some obstruction issues. Hamish Watson is no stranger to playing beyond the limit, and his illegal clearing of defenders in front of the charging Dave Cherry, created both the latter's tries. A closer score and these would impact.

But, never mind, what a day we had, it truly was a super Saturday. And still, we can look forward to a little digestif next Friday. Scotland travel to Paris, Wayne Barnes will whistle. Quietly please.

Owen Doyle is a former Test referee and former director of referees with the IRFU.

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