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Ireland still without clarity over Wayne Barnes' final scrum penalty call

Head coach Joe Schmidt indicated a degree of unhappiness with the Englishman’s performances in the Six Nations.

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Ireland have still not received clarity on the final scrum penalty Wayne Barnes gave against them in last Saturday’s Six Nations defeat to Wales in the Millennium Stadium.

Devin Toner, Sean O'Brien and Paul O'Connell Paul O'Connell reacts in anger as Barnes penalises the Irish scrum. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ireland were penalised in what was essentially the final action of the game, despite appearing to have legally turned the scrum 90 degrees thanks to a huge drive from replacements Cian Healy and Iain Henderson on the loosehead side of their scrum.

While Schmidt insists Ireland are all about “about going forward now,” with this weekend’s final round visit to Murrayfield looming large, the Kiwi head coach did appear to underline the Irish set-up’s unhappiness with Barnes.

“Obviously Wayne was on the touch against Italy and made a scrum call in that game [too],” said Schmidt when asked about Barnes at Carton House this afternoon. ”He was refereeing in the French game and he’ll referee us again.

We’ve seen a fair bit of Wayne during the championship and I think it’s important that we keep trying to work with the referees so they understand what we’re trying to achieve and at the same time we try to work on what they’re doing as well.

“The only conversation I’ve had with referees is trying to make sure we keep working together to try to get a really good consistency and understanding about those facets.”

Ireland have made a change at loosehead prop this weekend, with Healy replacing Jack McGrath in the number one shirt, but Schmidt underlined that he has no concerns over how referees are interpreting McGrath’s scrummaging.

Paul O'Connell O'Connell and Ireland had some difficulties with Barnes last weekend. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Jerome Garces is the man in the middle for Saturday’s clash with the Scots at Murrayfield, when Schmidt will be hoping for more reward at scrum time.

“We don’t believe that there are,” said Schmidt when asked if there were misconceptions around Ireland’s scrummaging. “We believe that Jack is very correct in the scrum; he tends to keep his hip in, tends not to take the angle.

It’s difficult for any loosehead if they’re dominating that side of the scrum, it’s inevitably going to come up.

“There’s pressure on two shoulders on the tighthead, only one on the loosehead so there’s a natural tendency that the axis of the scrum will turn up on the loosehead side.

“If you’re dominating on that side it’s very difficult. We just challenge ourselves to keep the axis balanced and try to power through both sides, but it’s difficult when the opposition are moving around in front of you.”

The scrum battle will be followed more closely than ever in Edinburgh this weekend.

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