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Leo Cullen has an interesting idea about tweaking how the choke tackle is refereed

The Leinster forwards coach favours an interpretation of the law that benefits the attacking team.

Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw attempt to tackle Mathieu Bastareaud.
Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw attempt to tackle Mathieu Bastareaud.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

SHAUN EDWARDS SEEMS to have gotten his wish. The Welsh defence coach called for the choke tackle to be banned during a press conference last week and while that won’t happen, many people associated with the game have offered their opinion on the tactic.

The defensive strategy is used regularly by Ireland and it involves two or more players tackling the area around the ball and holding the attacker up, thus winning a scrum for their side.

Edwards said that it encourages high-tackling and causes concussions and while most people took that with an industrial barrel of salt, he did raise one interesting point.

Edwards wants the tackle to be refereed longer, so that after the players hit the ground there is a second or two allowed for the attacking team to dig the ball out.

Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen offered a similar solution when asked about the issue.

‘I find it ironic that Wales actually got a choke tackle during the game,” Cullen laughed.

“Maybe they can change the way it’s refereed post the collapse, giving players some time to get out of the way. Or for the referee to give players some time to get out of the way so that the ball might become available. That is something that I think should be considered because sometimes it is the players diving off their feet to try and kill the ball are maybe more dangerous than the choke itself.”

The benefit of adopting that idea is that by allowing a few extra seconds, there is the possibility of cutting down on the number of scrums per game and giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team.

But while Cullen agreed with Edwards on that point, he was less sold on the premise that the choke tackle encourages players to go high.

“Some guys play the game higher so they are naturally in a position to hold guys up,” Cullen said.

“It is a tactic that teams use. I didn’t hear his comment but heard the media reports. Maybe it is a little bit [over the top].”

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