England coach Martin Johnson was livid after his team’s lack of discipline cost them a huge Irish scalp at Croke Park on Saturday.
Prop Phil Vickery and replacement scrum-half Danny Care both conceded crucial penalties and picked up yellow cards. Vickery’s dismissal and subsequent penalty led to the only try of the game for Brian O’Driscoll while Care’s needless late lunge on Marcus Horan secured what turned out to be the match winning penalty from Ronan O’Gara.
“I said to the players after the game, you cost yourselves the game. Face facts, it was a big effort, they did some things very well at times but if you give away 18 penalties you are going to lose,” said Johnston.
“I am angry for them, not me. We have gone toe to toe with one of the better teams in Europe, a team that could win this championship.
“We were under pressure at times and at times we had them under pressure - but if you give 18 penalties away you are not going to win.”
Meanwhile, his Irish counterpart Declan Kidney has acknowledged that parts of the game ended up more like ping pong than rugby as the ball was kicked from one half to the other – and urged rugby’s governing body to review the new laws. The Experimental Law Variations brought in to encourage attacking play have had the opposite effects in many instances and the Irish coach is not impressed.
“The changes in the ELVs where you can’t maul means there’s less space,” he said. “A large percentage of the game is now in the favour of the defence. That’s why you’re getting so much kicking. “Hopefully the lawmakers will look at why there isn’t space on the pitch and the lack of the maul is one of them.”