Smith vows to clean up Exiles' disciplinary recordBy Alan Manicom
June 13, 2012
Brian Smith has vowed to address London Irish’s poor disciplinary record.
Exiles’ director of rugby warned the club need to clean up their act if they are to taste success in the Aviva Premiership next season.
He said: “We have consistently been the most penalised team in the contest we’ve been involved in.
“We have to be disciplined and keep our composure even under extreme provocation.
“The reason we do that is because we want to be the best team in the league. Would the All Blacks get involved in an all-in brawl? No.
“Why wouldn’t they? Because of yellow cards and red cards.
“At international level they are the team that knows how to win more than anyone else. So we have got to look at the All Blacks and say if they don’t do it neither should we.
“People say we should stick up for each other and that’s true, but look where that’s got us.
“It’s got us in hot water and our standards have to be the same as the best team in the world – and the best team in the world simply wouldn’t get involved in an all-in brawl.
Irish’s final game of the season – a 52-18 win over Gloucester on May 4 – was overshadowed by some of the most disgraceful scenes seen at Madejski Stadium in the 12 years the club has played there.
David Paice and Gloucester’s Jim Hamilton were each banned for seven weeks after coming to blows, sparking a mass brawl that led to Exiles’ No. 8 Ofisa Treviranus receiving a five-week suspension for the punches he threw.
Treviranus, who plays for Samoa, and Scotland international Hamilton are currently serving their bans which were timed to prevent them from representing their countries this summer.
But Paice was not considered for England’s tour of South Africa so his suspension does not come into force until August 10, ruling him out of all three of London Irish’s pre-season friendlies as well as their first four matches of the season.
Smith said: “We have been more heavily penalised than Gloucester and yet the guy who started the whole thing was Jim Hamilton by pushing David Paice in the back and knocking him over.
“Anyone who’s been pushed in the back when you’re not expecting it and you get that head snap back will know it’s like a whiplash effect. It’s not pleasant.
“But the bottom line is that we retaliated and that caused a melee. That’s ill discipline on David’s part for going after him at the next ruck, cleaning him out and then getting involved with a bit of handbags stuff.
“Then as Jim and David were leaving the pitch David’s had words with Jim and has been on the receiving end of a hiding, really.
“The bottom line is that we’ve got to have better discipline than that. David lost his composure coming off the pitch and going forward that’s not going to be acceptable because the full melee broke out again and Ofisa got involved.”
Smith added: “It’s important that we stick up for each other as team-mates, but very important to say ‘Look, we can’t lose our composure’.
“We were putting Gloucester to the sword and they were starting to get pretty p***** off.
“There were niggles starting to come into the game because they were on the end of a thrashing.
“We have to recognise when that’s going on and we’ve got to keep our composure. Our ill discipline cost us and in David’s case it will have an impact on the first three or four games of next season in competition.
“So while it might be a short-term fix of retaliation and retribution the proof is in the pudding. We are the team that’s more heavily penalised.
“You can argue if the judicial system is fair or not, but it’s there. It’s set in stone.
“The sanctions for fighting are there – and all the players know them.
“Going forward this team is going to be built on discipline. And we need to be more disciplined in defence.”
London Irish were the top tacklers in the Aviva Premiership in 2011/12, completing 92 per cent of their hits, the best rate in the league.
But Smith, who this summer brought in Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards aims to reduce the number of tries conceded, adding: “Even in that last game against Gloucester we conceded soft tries. We need to be more disciplined in terms of not giving away penalties.”
Smith though, dismisses suggestions that other teams are deliberately seeking to wind up his players in a bid to earn penalties.
He explained: “I don’t think any team is setting out to bait us.
“And I don’t think we’re the Oakland Raiders of the competition.
“In the 70s and the early 80s the Raiders were known as the thugs of the NFL. No, we’re not known as that.
He added: “There have been a number of players in our squad that have had issues with discipline – Chris Hala’Ufia and Delon Armitage.
“It’s the coaches’ job to remind the squad and not to give a mixed message.
“We’ve got to continue to remind them what standards we’re setting and why we’re setting them because we want to win more games than any other team – and we’ve got less chance of winning when we’re getting yellow cards and red cards.
“Why would we fight with one hand behind our back? It just doesn’t make sense.”