Owen Doyle: Wayne Barnes’ loud continuous communication is over the top

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg could learn a lot about leadership from the Italians

Italy's 23-year-old Michele Lamaro, speaking passionately in perfect English after his team's mighty victory against Wales, told us that, now, he just wanted to be with his team.

In Dublin, prior to kick-off, there was much talk about Scottish captain Stuart Hogg doing quite something else, leaving most of his teammates behind in the hotel to visit a pub with a few chosen ones after their victory against Italy.

And then, miserably, he failed to pass inside to teammate Sam Johnson for what looked like a certain try, instead attempting to do it all by himself before meeting Hugo Keenan - game over. A potential game changer down the tubes, engineered by the leader.

Ireland will, and should be, very happy with their Triple Crown. Not a win in the style everybody would have wished for, but Scotland were tricky opponents and had come to play some rugby, starting proceedings with a bang.


It was a fairly dour Ireland at times, but the business was done, and conclusively too with a bonus point included. Dan Sheehan put in a breath taking performance and with Ronan Kelleher the team are blessed with two outstanding hookers but the first choice props are sorely needed and the back-up is not in the same class.


Wayne Barnes a fine referee, is deserving of much respect, mine included. However, from the number of texts which pinged into my phone I am certainly not alone in thinking that loud continuous communication is over the top, past the point of annoyance and he does himself a disservice. Also, congratulating Cian Healy for a good scrum, or "use it please, Ali" to Scotland's scrumhalf, cannot be appropriate.

His reasoning for not handing out a card to Pierre Schoeman for use of the forearm in a collision with Iain Henderson, seemed at odds with TMO Stuart Teerhege's opinion of events. While Barnes' explanation was understandable, clarification is needed about what a ball carrier may do, even if holding the ball in both hands.

Johnny Sexton had a query about Scotland's try by Schoeman, a chat which continued after the fluffed conversion. There is also a valid question about side-entry by his frontrow partner, George Turner, in the build-up to that try. The score also raised the double movement debate again.

World Rugby requires referees to go to the TMO with a definite decision, which can only be overruled on the basis of very clear evidence

Having screwed up in Dublin, Hogg might well take a lesson from a fellow fullback, Ange Capuozzo, who timed his inside pass to perfection for Eduardo Padovani to touch down close to the posts, giving Paolo Garbisi an easy conversion for Italy's high drama win in Cardiff.

Padovani, moved to the wing by coach Kieran Crowley to make room for Capuozzo in the starting XV, fielded a clearing kick by Wales. Less than two minutes were left when he passed to Capuozzo who was static, positioned over 60 metres from the Welsh goalline.

Whatever he saw down the right hand side nobody else knew what he was thinking. With breathtaking acceleration he left the just announced man of the match Josh Adams flailing in his slip-stream. His arcing run, and pacey body-swerve then saw Kieran Hardy hitting the deck, as Capuozzo hared towards the five-metre line, where his perfect, unselfish, pass took care of the last defender.

Sheer brilliance, created by a player who was a 15 year-old boy when Italy last won a Six Nations match seven years ago.

Ireland's Andy Brace, who enjoyed positive scrummaging from both packs, will be asked by Wales about his TMO referral for a potential fourth Welsh touch-down, with his on-field decision being no-try. World Rugby requires referees to go to the TMO with a definite decision, which can only be overruled on the basis of very clear evidence.

Joy Neville correctly saw no reason to do so, and any criticism of her is misguided. This has happened before to Brace and he will know that he was late getting into in-goal, taking several seconds to make up his mind. In these situations a third option must surely be used by the referee, basically that he is unable to make a call, and then the TMO can take over.

Such an option may not have changed anything, and it cannot camouflage a very poor performance by Wales. Wayne Pivac's seven changes from the team who had played very well against France is really what is impossible to explain. The calls for a new head coach will just get louder now before they visit South Africa for a three test series. There's likely more pain on the way.

Hats off

Chapeau, hats off, to France, a Grand Slam for the first time in 12 years in a match quietly reffed by Jaco Peyper. Jack Nowell was fortunate to avoid yellow, the referee penalising Damien Penaud instead, to the disapproval of the home supporters.

So, what of Jones? Despite two unacceptable Six Nations results on the trot the RFU have raced to his defence

They attacked with pace and energy which completely nonplussed a forlorn English team who looked lost, as if they’d prefer to be anywhere else on the planet. If France hadn’t put down several early passes, it could have been a hammering. The visitors did turn up for the second period, at last showing some enthusiasm for the fight, managing to take the game to their opponents for short bursts.

Whatever concrete game plan Eddie Jones had devised to win it was far from enough and was submerged by both flair and the newly found French hard-edge competitiveness at the breakdown, and in defence. At times, it looked as if England were reduced to turning Paris into box-kick city, a devalued tactical currency.

So, what of Jones? Despite two unacceptable Six Nations results on the trot the RFU have raced to his defence, remaining, apparently, in full support of their man and his strategy, a position which will confound many. Perhaps they consider that there are stumbling blocks to change - finding a replacement and the number of zeros on a potential pay-off cheque. In this professional era, these are hardly insurmountable.

Whatever happens, along with Welsh coach Pivac, it’s a space worth watching, a tale of two coaches maybe.