September 29, 2019 / 5:31 AM / 16 days ago

Samoa searching for answers after players banned for high tackles

KOBE (Reuters) - Samoa have no complaints about the yellow cards dished out to centre Rey Lee-lo and hooker Motu Matu’u in their World Cup opener but the decision to ban both players for three games has left assistant coach Alistair Rogers seeking answers.

Lee-lo and Matu’u will miss Samoa’s three remaining Pool A games, starting with Monday’s match against Scotland in Kobe, and Rogers said he had contacted World Rugby’s high performance manager for match officials in the hope of avoiding further problems.

“I’ve contacted Alain Rolland and I’m waiting for him to get back to me, because as a defensive coach it’s paramount for me to know what we can do to try and mitigate these kind of circumstances,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We spend a lot of time on tackle technique, we coach the micro-detail of the tackle and let’s be clear, as far as the outcome we felt it was dealt with correctly at the time.

“Obviously the powers at be think differently.

“It’s very difficult in today’s game, a lot of line speed, but that’s the current climate and we’ve jut got to keep working on that skill.

“But we teach that and coach that every day. And those two players in particular spend a lot of time on it.”

World Rugby have made much of their campaign to rid the game of high hits but it has been a major issue in Japan, with Australia’s Reece Hodge and U.S. flanker John Quill also being handed three-game bans.

England’s Piers Francis has also been cited for a dangerous tackle but has yet to learn his fate.

Head coach Steve Jackson said his players did not deserve the same suspension as Quill, who delivered a brutal shoulder barge to the head of England’s Owen Farrell on Thursday, and the coaches had been trying to lift the mood in the squad.

“I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t had any impact. It certainly has, emotionally for the two players that had to go through what they went through,” he said.

Jackson predicted a big battles of the forwards in Monday’s game against Scotland, who lost their opening game to Ireland and must beat the Samoans to have any chance of making the quarter-finals.

Japan are top of the group after their stunning victory over the Irish on Saturday.

“Rugby is an old game, you’ve got to break teams up front, the game is normally won and lost with the forward pack,” he added.

“So we’re under no illusions about what Scotland are going to bring in that area, and they should be under no illusions about what we’re going to bring.”

Editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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