Sam Warburton Fires Back At Stuart Barnes Following Criticism

Missed the point.

Recently retired Sam Warburton sat down with The Times last week to discuss all things rugby following his decision to hang up his boots at just 29-years-old following a series of injuries.

In the interview Warburton suggested three very logical changes that could be made in rugby to help improve player welfare.

– 25 game limit per season.
– Less contact in training.
– More protection for the jackaller (the defensive player attempting to poach the ball).

His third point is the one that has stuck out the most and raised some serious questions.

“You have to look at the clean-outs. You need to protect the jackalers. Maybe say something like the opposition team cannot commit more than two players in a ruck.” Warburton said.

Fellow openside Sean O’Brien agreed with Warburton in an interview he did later in the week, pointing out just out “vulnerable” the jackaler is when he’s “in that poach.”

“I always say at the breakdown some referees, they let you get . . .you could be in a poach position, and you’ll take one big hit or someone will smash you and you still survive it.” O’Brien said.

“And you take another one and you’ll survive it and there’s still no whistle gone. And it’s the third lad that does the damage to you. That’s where you’re getting so much punishment – three massive free shots and there’s still no penalty.”

“In terms of that, I don’t know what has to be done around that area. Definitely there’s something about different styles of refereeing. Definitely some referees get you in trouble. A lot. Especially when you’re in that poach, vulnerable position.”

But it appears those comments didn’t go down too well with outspoken pundit Stuart Barnes, who has suggested that Warburton has “come up with one of the worst ideas” he had ever seen regarding rugby.

“My blood ran cold when I read Sam Warburton’s musings on the breakdown,” wrote Barnes.

“One of the best exponents at the point of tackle, the sadly retired Wales captain came up with one of the worst ideas I have seen regarding rugby union.”

“For all the best reasons, of course — which he and his punished body know far better than 99.99% of us — he came up with just about the most detrimental suggestion which, if followed, would seal the fate of the sport as a lesser variant of rugby league.”

Warburton however, was having none of it and laid into Barnes on Twitter.

“You’ve sadly completely missed the point.” Warburton wrote

“1. Encourages the jackal due to attack committing less players (turnovers essential to the game)
2. Increases amount of attacking players on their feet
3. Will emphasise technique and efficiency of 1st arriving cleanout”

Who’s side are you on? Warburton or Barnes?