Ireland ponder Poite complaint
February 7, 2011
Replacement fly-half Ronan O'Gara rescued Ireland with a late drop-goal in Rome © Getty Images
Ireland are set to review their opening Six Nations victory over Italy in Rome before deciding whether to make an official complaint about referee Romain Poite's handling of the game.
The 2009 Grand Slam champions edged out the Azzurri 13-11 at the Stadio Flaminio on Saturday but were thumped 13-5 on the penalty count and were pinged numerous times at the scrum.
A conspiratorial element was added to the match when Italy coach Nick Mallett revealed that Poite had written to the Italian Rugby Federation apologising for the way he refereed prop Martin Castrogiovanni at the set piece in the fixture last year.
"I was made aware of the fact the referee had written to the Italian union to apologise for his handling of the game last year," said head coach Declan Kidney. "When I asked him, the referee informed me that was just the opposition coach trying to put the pressure on him. I'll look at the video and if we need to make an appropriate enquiry we will do so.
"Most of the penalties did seem to come at the scrum but we've been told there's an avenue for us to approach this. We've been asked to trust it and that's what I'll do. I'll make my case to the appropriate authorities. Rugby is a tough game to adjudicate on, but I'll trust that first and see what type of reaction I get from it."
Ireland were rescued from an embarrassing defeat by a 78th minute drop-goal from Ronan O'Gara shortly after a try from fullback Luke McLean had nudged Italy ahead. Kidney was delighted with the response of his team when faced with one of the greatest upsets in the championship's history.
"Those last four minutes are something you can't coach. You either have it or you don't - and we had it," he said. "We could have just panicked, but we didn't - either in attack or defence.
"I know how hard the players try and there were a few wild passes. Once we'd made one or two, we tried harder and harder," said Kidney. "If that's a frustration, I have to look upon it as a positive frustration. We just have to calm down and hang on to the ball.
"In golfing terminology, we can't force the swing so much. France next Sunday will be delighted if we turn the ball over as much as we did against Italy."
Jamie Heaslip could return to face the Grand Slam champions in Dublin after making encouraging progress in his battle with an ankle injury. Andrew Trimble's arm problem is also healing rapidly, but Stephen Ferris is a bigger doubt because of his knee injury.
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