Johnson wants standardised rules
February 26, 2010
England boss Martin Johnson feels the IRB should implement one set of rules for rugby © Getty Images
Martin Johnson believes that inconsistent officiating in Test rugby is inevitable as long as the northern and southern hemispheres continue to implement different interpretations of the existing rules.
The England team manager, speaking ahead of Saturday's pivotal Six Nations clash with Ireland at Twickenham, believes that referees have been placed in an unenviable position by the International Rugby Board in that the men in the middle are essentially being asked to work with two different rule books.
Johnson believes that such a scenario is bound to lead to confusion and frustration amongst everyone involved.
"I sympathise with the referees, believe it or not. It is very tough for them," the former Leicester lock said. "Some of the interpretations have changed and changed a little too quickly when you are dealing with very close margins that decide games.
"I think we need a time in the game where we say: 'This is what we are doing across the board, internationally.'"
Despite his concerns, Johnson is in no doubt that South Africa's Mark Lawrence, whose last game was a Super 14 clash between the Bulls and the Brumbies, is more than capable of dealing with subtle differences in interpretation between north and south.
"I don't have concerns with Mark because I spoke to him earlier this week and had a very good conversation but we will have to be very good in that area," the World Cup-winning lock said. "It is part of the bigger picture."
Turning his attention to the visit of the Irish, Martin Johnson admitted that his side will have to summon up a performance of far greater quality than the ones they produced against Wales and Italy in the previous two rounds if they are to make it three wins from three in this year's Championship.
"This is the sort of game you get involved in rugby to play in. There will be a full house at Twickenham, the Grand Slam champions are coming and we have a chance to try and beat them," he said.
"It is a good game to be involved in and it comes at a good time for us, Ireland at home after two wins. Ireland come here as the best team from these islands, they certainly have that tag at the moment. It is a huge game. We will have to be better than we have been to beat them."
Johnson revealed that he views France's 33-10 demolition of Ireland in Paris a fortnight ago as the perfect blueprint for how to go about beating Declan Kidney's men.
"France got a huge tempo in the game and they managed to keep that tempo in their attack. If we can get quick ball there will be chances to attack," he reasoned. "But it will be a big challenge for us tomorrow.
"The breakdown will be key. Their back five forwards are all Lions from the last tour. They are very strong in that area. Their back line is very strong as well. Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll are a real running threat.
"There will be huge intensity in tomorrow's match but that intensity can't be headless. It has got to be controlled at the right time."
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring