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England v Italy: World Rugby says it is ‘too early to speculate on law changes’

Six Nations Remix: England don’t know the rules

It is “too early to speculate” on potential rule changes after Italy used controversial tactics against England, says the sport’s world governing body.

The Azzurri refused to engage in rucks as the home side won Sunday’s Six Nations match 36-15 at Twickenham.

England boss Eddie Jones criticised Italy’s tactics, and said law-makers should have a “very close look at it”.

A spokesperson for World Rugby told the BBC it could ‘clarify’ the law, rather than drastically change it.

Italy’s plan, masterminded by defence coach Brendan Venter, left no offside line after a tackle.

The Azzurri’s half-backs then crowded an unsettled England backline.

England were 10-5 down at half-time but recovered in the second half to secure a bonus-point win.

“We challenged people’s minds and a lot of credit must go to Brendan for doing what he did,” said Italy head coach Conor O’Shea.

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Six Nations 2017: England 35-16 Italy highlights

How Italy’s plan almost failed before it started

O’Shea has revealed Italy’s plan was almost scuppered the day before the match.

He said referee Romain Poite told Italy’s coaching team there had been a change in the laws during the week, which they were not aware of.

Their original idea was to target England scrum-half Danny Care directly after rejecting any notion of forming a ruck, and they worked on that in training.

But Poite told them they could no longer legally challenge the scrum-half.

“It meant we had to adapt even between Saturday’s meeting and the match,” said O’Shea.

Instead of chasing Care, Italy counterpart Edoardo Gori blocked his running and passing lines by standing in what would have been offside positions had any rucks formed.

O’Shea said: “There was an offside in our game against Ireland that was clarified as being onside.

“Brendan came to me and said: ‘Please listen and don’t think I’m mad.’ We talked as a group of coaches and said: ‘OK, will we go for this?’

“A lot of thought has gone into it. We didn’t come up with this overnight.”

O’Shea, a former director of rugby at London Irish and Harlequins, said he was “incredibly proud” of his players.

He said: “We did not come here to lose, and we are gutted to lose.

“We have to change in Italy and I am sick and tired of people having a pop and having a go. We came to win.”

Italy match not proper rugby – Jones

‘Fury was righteous and often misplaced’ – analysis

BBC chief sports writer Tom Fordyce:

England were as ready for it as Don Bradman was for Bodyline, or Scott Styris in 2008 when Kevin Pietersen swapped hands on his bat handle and switch-hit him for six.

On the pitch they were first confused, then angry, and for a long period then neutered. In the stands it was more demonstrative yet.

There are few sights in rugby as striking as Twickenham Man in full red-cheeked fury, and on Sunday his fury was both righteous and often misplaced.

Italy were not acting illegally.

Coach Conor O’Shea had run the tactic past referee Romain Poite on Saturday, and not only been given the all-clear but a little bit of advice too: to be within the spirit of the laws as well as the wording, do not get within a metre of the nine.

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