Six Nations 2016: England defence coach Paul Gustard defends disciplinary record
Paul Gustard has defended England’s disciplinary record after the first three rounds of the RBS Six Nations, with the defence coach insisting that the yellow cards shown to James Haskell and Danny Care during the victory over Ireland had been “unbelievably harsh”.
Haskell was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray while Care was shown a yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck close to the England try-line during the second half of England’s 21-10 victory that has set up a potential RBS Six Nations title decider against Wales on Saturday.
England have also conceded more penalties than their opponents in each of their three victories over Scotland, Italy and Ireland but Gustard insisted the problem was not an endemic one.
“We speak about discipline, we are not daft, we know we can’t give field position away cheaply, we know we can’t give away penalty opportunities cheaply," said Gustard.
"But sometimes penalties are given at scrum time and the breakdown and decisions are made quickly and fast and that’s what happens.
"If you look at the two yellow cards, they were unbelievably harsh. There were other moments in the game from both teams that might have been more pertinent to that sort of sanction.
“I spoke to James about his defensive display after that [his yellow card], he was so eager to try make a difference that he got himself pulled out of the system. That for me is more of a concern than a mistimed tackle on the nine.”
Asked if that in Care’s instance, it might be a preferable option to have a player sent to the sin bin to prevent a try being scored, Gustard added:
“I don’t coach ill-discipline, I don’t coach people trying to cheat, I don’t coach it. I coach people defending in a system the way I want to defend. That is what I coach.
“It is not about seeing how far the referee will go and what we can get away with at this game? It is not that at all. Both yellow cards, you can discuss on their individual merits about whether they were yellow cards or not. I want 15 defenders, I don’t want 14 or 13, it makes it a lot harder.”