Scotland v Samoa: Greig Laidlaw calls on refs to protect players from high tackles
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw believes referees need to up their game in looking after players after the start of the World Cup has been marred by a plethora of dangerous, high tackles which have not been clamped down on severely enough by match officials.
The Scots’ next pool opponents Samoa will be without key centre Rey Lee-Lo after after he was banned for the team's final three pool matches for a dangerous tackle.
Lee-Lo was cited for a shoulder-led hit on the head of Russia captain Vasily Artemyev in Samoa's 34-9 win on Tuesday. He was sin-binned but a disciplinary committee said the tackle deserved a red card because it was reckless.
Refereeing leniency has been a hot topic this after World Rugby took the extraordinary step of releasing a statement saying that officiating had fallen short in the opening matches.
Laidlaw was happy to see the governing body take such a step and hopes it results in better policing of that area in the game.
“Absolutely; I think the tackles are being looked at. They [from the Samoans] were two clear head shots, and pretty brutal ones at that. Ultimately you are looking for the ref to look after players.”
Asked if he thought they were red cards, Laidlaw said: “I think they were.
“[English ref] Wayne Barnes did a pretty good job in our first game [the 27-3 loss to Ireland]. We have not got any grumbles. Hopefully that continues going forward.”
Looking ahead to the win-or-bust showdown with Samoa on Monday, Laidlaw was asked if the physical Pacific islanders had a “nasty” streak to their game.
“I don’t think it is a nastiness,” he said. “I know ‘Motz’ Ma’atu’u pretty well; I played with him at Gloucester. He just likes to hit people pretty hard. It is part of the way they are as people. They like that physical part of the game. It is just in their make-up and how they play the game.”
Scotland trained with a full complement today, including Stuart Hogg who was one of the players who sat out yesterday’s session.
Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair added: “Henry [Pyrgos] arrived today [to replace the injured Ali Price] but didn't train. Stuart Hogg, who didn’t train yesterday took a full part in training today.
“It will be difficult [for Pyrgos to be considered for selection against Samoa] with him not having trained. He will be behind with some of the stuff we did out here but he was impressive during the pre-season training so it will be good to have him come in to the mix.”
That means George Horne will be in the matchday 23 and Laidlaw, Scotland’s most-capped scrum-half, said of the Glasgow 24-year-old who is in line for his eighth Test appearance: “George has trained brilliantly. It’s difficult with three scrum halves and you have one in the team and one in the reserve team but George has always tried to get those reps in as nine, always doing the extra work.
“He is an exciting player and can add a spark to the team.”