Six Nations Championship
No excuses from shamed Care
March 4, 2009
Danny Care was sin-binned by referee Craig Joubert at Croke Park © Getty Images
England scrum-half Danny Care has apologised for his sin-binning against Ireland after criticism for his actions reached a crescendo in the media. Care was given his marching orders by referee Craig Joubert after barging in to the back of Ireland prop Marcus Horan at a ruck, an act of petulance that has drawn great scorn from fans and commentators alike.
England lost the game by a single point but again spent 20 minutes of the game down to 14 men after Care and prop Phil Vickery were sin-binned. Care maintains that he was not acting out of malice but a genuine desire to win the ball.
"A lot of people are saying what I did was pointless, but there was a reason for it," he said in his blog for ITV.
"I saw Marcus Horan stood in that ruck, and I saw their scrum-half Peter Stringer looking for the ball. I thought: 'I'll try and hit Horan on top of Stringer then it might slow the ball down a bit. And if we can get a turnover from it, then great.' I thought the ball was still in the ruck. It was a silly thing to do, I admit, but there was some thought behind it.
"And like Johnno [Martin Johnson] said, you are allowed to hit the back of rucks. But I realise now it was unnecessary to do it at that point in the game."
Care doesn't read the newspapers, but admitted that he felt the effects of his mistake following the Ireland game. Despite qualifying his decision to go after Horan, he also offered no excuses for his actions.
"I don't read the newspapers, and I'm told that is a good thing at the moment. All I can say is I've never been more gutted than I was at Croke Park," he said. "There's no hiding the fact that we lost another game because of our own indiscipline. We threw the game away rather than Ireland winning it, and I was a major part in that. No excuses."
Care may soon regret his indiscretion further after Johnson admitted that he will start dropping players whose discipline continues to cost England games. He has also called on elite referee Wayne Barnes to go through the myriad of penalties that England have conceded in recent games.
"Wayne Barnes is coming up and we will go through all the penalties we have given away in the last couple of games," said Johnson. "We will look to eradicate any grey areas in terms of players' interpretations of what they have done and what referees have been instructed to look out for.
"I will catch up with Wayne tonight. As part of the overall review tomorrow we will have a big session on penalties. We will discuss it and we have to keep hammering away. Players have to learn to cope with pressure and if you are giving away silly penalties then you don't have a leg to stand on."
Care's actions drew the ire of Johnson, who obviously wants to be able to call on players who have their discipline in check. Care's lack of composure cost England at Croke Park, and may cost the player in the future.
"Players know if they make mistakes, not just in penalties but on the field, then they won't get to play," said Johnson. "That threat is always hanging over you when you are in an England team, or even a club team. If they make bad decisions on the field in a rugby sense, never mind a penalty sense, then they won't play.
"We pick players on their performance and part of their performance is giving penalties away. It is an error, it is a mistake. If you give away needless penalties that is part of your performance. We will speak to guys about what they have done. I have spoken briefly to Danny and I will speak to him in greater depth. Guys coming off the bench are there for an impact, particularly at scrum-half.
"We need him on the field. He has had a rush of blood or the red mist in what was a fairly fractious game - he can't get drawn into that. We need him on the field doing what he does very well."
Johnson has also pointed the finger at Vickery, whose sin-binning came after he ignored clear instructions from the referee not to play the ball while on his knees.
"Ten yellow cards doesn't embarrass me, it disappoints me because it is costing us opportunities to win games. Did Phil Vickery listen to the referee? Probably not. Did he deserve a yellow card? He probably did.
"It hasn't shaken my belief in what we are doing. If anything, it has proven that if we execute the game plan it has put us in a position to win matches," he said. "I thought against Ireland and against Wales at times we produced quite a lot of quick ball. We produced the best break of the game, we created space and attacked the space at times pretty well.
"Our defence through the championship has been strong. We have lost the last two Tests by a combined total of eight points. It makes it more frustrating. If you are getting ripped apart you expect the penalty count to be higher but we haven't been."
Johnson is not phased by the reaction to England's problems, but has emphasised that it's do or die time for the squad as a whole.
"Has the reaction taken me aback? Not really. It has been an issue over the last few weeks and it is an even bigger issue now," he said. "We don't want to lose Test matches and we are not giving ourselves a chance because of it. If guys don't get it or didn't get it they have got to now and we will do everything to make sure they are aware of it."
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era
"He's full of empathy...he calms the water...he's the Brumbies' saviour," was how a taxi driver in Canberra described Jake White." Tom Hamilton files his latest Tour Diary
"I am not alone in believing this series could well be decided by who can steal most ball after the tackle." John Taylor previews the Lions' first Test showdown with Australia