THE Wallabies have been warned to be on their best behaviour in tomorrow’s World Cup match against Wales after a crackdown on foul play.
Australia coach John Connolly has told his players they cannot afford to take any cha
nces after five players from other teams were suspended in the first week of competition.
American centre Paul Emerick was banned for five weeks for a spear tackle on England flyhalf Olly Barkley while England captain Phil Vickery was suspended for two games for tripping Emerick in the same match.
South African flanker Schalk Burger was given a four-week ban which was later halved to two for a high tackle on Samoa scrumhalf Junior Polu and Samoa centre Alfie Vaeluaga was suspended for one game for a dangerous tackle on Springboks fullback Percy Montgomery.
Portugal’s Juan Severino Somoza was banned for headbutting Scotland’s Nathan Hines, taking the total number of suspensions to five from the first 12 games.
Connolly said he supported the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) clampdown on violent play and had put the Wallabies on notice.
“I think the world of rugby, the IRB particularly, are trying to put a marker in this tournament for the future of the game for what’s accepted and not accepted,” Connolly told reporters.
“I can see how we play and how we behave at World Cups at the top level influences how the game is administrated and judged down the grades.
“I think in this day and age we can’t criticise that whatsoever.”
The Wallaby players said they were surprised at the severity of some of the penalties handed out so far and were aware they had to control their discipline.
“I’ve definitely got to be a bit careful,” Australian number eight Wycliff Palu said.
“There’s times when I’ve gone for a big tackle and mistimed it and gone high … but that’s rugby, so long as the other guy’s not badly injured it should be fine.”
Meanwhile, Frederic Michalak is back from the wilderness to lead France’s backline against Namibia and revive their World Cup campaign after they lost their opener against Argentina.
The flyhalf, who is still only 24, said yesterday that “enjoyment” would be his motto for Sunday’s game in Toulouse, the town where he was born and rugby educated.
“Against Argentina, we lacked enjoyment, we didn’t smile,” he told journalists.
“To play in Toulouse will be enjoyable of course but the real pleasure comes when we play right, when we play with a smile. It comes from a good tackle, from a good counter-attack. It comes when we win and score tries not when the team is out of tune. And we played out of tune against Argentina.”
After crashing 17-12 at the Stade de France last Friday, hosts France need to win their next three games and collect all the bonus points available against Namibia, Ireland and Georgia to avoid early elimination from Pool D or a quarter-final against the All Blacks in Cardiff. “The defeat brought us down to earth. Maybe we needed it. If we can recover from such a failure it will be a good omen for the future,” Michalak said. — Reuters.