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Deans raises decoy concerns ... again
Christchurch
May 23, 2000

Canterbury Crusaders coach Robbie Deans plans to raise concerns about the ACT Brumbies' decoy running and scrum-binding tactics with referee Andre Watson before Saturday's Super 12 rugby final.

Watson said before refereeing the Crusaders-Brumbies round-robin game in Christchurch a fortnight ago he did not have a problem with the Australian side's dummy runner system. Nor did top New Zealand referee Paddy O'Brien, who controlled the Brumbies-Cats semi-final last weekend.

But the Cats' former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains has accused the Brumbies of "playing gridiron" and Deans also has doubts. Deans said the Crusaders would approach the final in a positive fashion and he believed the side which best "imposed its attack" would win.

But he felt the Brumbies had created a "distinctive style" with their decoy running system and had "possibly taken it to the letter of the law".

"You only have to look at last weekend's semi-final to see examples of that," Deans said. "There's no doubt in my mind that they do have an intention to create an advantage by the positioning of their support players.

"You only have to look at that last try. Have a look at (Rod) Kafer. The line he took was bizarre, to say the least. What was he trying to do, other than the fact that he intended to inhibit the ability of the defence to defend."

Deans said the Brumbies had "really put a lot of emphasis on that and perfected it."

"They've been successful in getting away with it, just as they were with their scrum tactics against us here in the round robin. They used illegal binding methods to gain an advantage and they were successful at it.

"You can call it what you like, but if you get away with it, it's clever. It will obviously be an issue we will be raising with Andre Watson."

Deans said the tactics were illegal, but were very difficult for referees to detect.

"They don't employ them all the time. They are clever as to when they use them. The timing of them makes it so difficult to police," he said.

Brumbies' captain Brett Robinson said he was not aware of any concern on the scrum binding issue.

"I'm not a front-rower so I can't really comment. But our front-row have trained very hard under Ewen McKenzie, and have looked to capitalise on the skills they have," he said.

But the decoy running issue had been "pretty much dealt with," Robinson said.

"As Paddy O'Brien said (last week), as long as the ball carrier is able to be tackled then that's fine. It's when a player obstructs the opposition from making the tackle on the attacking player that a problem arises.

"Not only the Brumbies, but all sides have made errors in that regard. Other teams have been playing it as well."

Robinson said the Crusaders had been using a backline move that "we first used a couple of years ago" and could be seen as a decoy. He said the Brumbies liked to play "right up on the advantage line" and had the skill level to "allow us to do so."

"We are playing the same game we've played since the Super 12 began, we have just looked to develop it a little bit further. But a lot of our plays are ones we used in 1996 and 1997, but they weren't so much an issue then."

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